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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Laundry system has room for improvement

Published: August 22, 2014
Section: Opinions

Doing laundry at Brandeis isn’t really something I’d call an onerous task. You dump a sack of dirty clothes and some detergent into a machine, wait forty five minutes, repeat the last two steps, then retrieve said clothes. Its nothing too different from what I did back home.

Most students seem to have no real qualms about the system. Some live close enough to do all their laundry at home, others draw money from their WhoCash accounts, a few have money-tins, but there are no serious problems looming about the dormitory washroom premises as of now. In fact, the last time The Hoot ran an article on student dissatisfaction with the laundry rooms was almost six years ago, when the university raised the price of using the machines to one dollar per use. Back then, someone implicitly claimed that doing laundry was a considerable strain on their finances. Color me complacent, but I do appreciate how it’s a lot cheaper to wash and dry my clothes at Brandeis than it is at a bunch of the New England apartment complexes I’ve visited in my time.

The majority of the time when the machines are used, however, everyone’s pretty punctual about their laundering; they get in, time their sessions to a reasonable margin of error, get out, and everything proceeds rather smoothly. But it so happens that the problem with laundry actually is caused by the students. Many tend to soil their garments and leave them in small piles of shame, or leave them in the laundry room for hours. Sometimes, when I found myself picking apart a freshly washed (or dried) batch of clothes onto a table, I’d wonder whether the owner forgot about it, had to go to class, was eating, needed to return a book, etc. I personally think it would be nice to have a little white board just hanging around the place, where people could simply record their names and their estimated times of arrival. If someone’s gone for, like, three hours, they either won’t mind having their clothes removed and placed upon a table, or they’ll make precautions. With social media and the like these days, if someone says they’ll be back for their clothes at five and it’s six, it likely won’t be long before they’ll know about the situation. And with the existence of only around one laundry-room per dormitory building, I wager the cost of furnishing said rooms wouldn’t exactly be too high either. Also, white boards are fun; you can draw pictures on them.

Another thing of note, however, is the question of why use of the campus laundry machines isn’t included in the price of room and board. Some students think it’s a bit odd to fumble for quarters or otherwise place cash upon their Who Cash accounts to gain access to such a fundamentally necessary service. I don’t claim to be an expert on the economics of clothes-washing, but I personally see the method of regular pay as just another little American tradition. I like to think of it as being something of a rite of passage to begin to hoard quarters and subject oneself to waiting two consecutive bouts of 30-60 minutes in the name of one’s personal hygiene when one begins living away from home. I also see it as another way Brandeis gently nudges people into transferring money into their WhoCash accounts.

In the end, though, I am inclined to agree with the majority of students out there who are okay with the laundry rooms as they are. From what I’ve seen, there isn’t much variation in apartment-style laundry rooms across the state. Machines will be occupied, people must wait, the sun will rise, and feelings may be hurt. But I do still stand by my assertion that whiteboards would be awesome and add more than a little flair and organization to the scene as a whole. It should, at the very least, shame a few absent-minded individuals into being a bit more considerate with their laundry-keeping.