“We want answers,” said Mikael Seamans in last week’s column, “Gone with the wash.”
Well, Seamans and my fellow students, I come bearing answers.
Laundry is expensive. I agree. My friends and I talk about the $15 to $25 a month it costs just to have clean clothes. I’m a college student! I don’t have that much money in quarters just lying around. For me, this means I make the long walk over to the Honors House precisely because I don’t want to pay if I don’t have to.
Yet I don’t think that the solution is necessarily to advocate for free laundry for all of campus. Why? Because there is no such thing as free laundry. It does cost someone money; the question is merely who bears the cost.
The University is providing a service by having on-campus laundry facilities. JBU rents its machines from a vendor whose rental agreement includes maintenance, which from the number of oft-broken machines I’ve witnessed is really good thing. The money we pay for washing goes toward the rental of the machines.
If we don’t pay that money, the money has to come from somewhere else. If we don’t pay by actually dropping quarters into a slot, we’ll probably end up paying some other way: fees, tuition, or you-name-it. No, laundry is not “free.”
I also want to address Seamans’ concern about “free” laundry for Honors students.
In the past, the Honors program had their own washer and dryer, though this year, because of high maintenance costs caused by frequent machine break-downs, the Honors Program began renting one washer and dryer from the same company that services the rest of campus. The money comes from their annual budget.
Brad Gambill, director of the Honors Scholars Program, said in an email that “the perk of free laundry is a little deceiving. We have around 250 students in the program, so–yes–you get free laundry along with 249 others. Only a slim percentage of our students–mostly freshmen–take advantage of this perk.”
Gambill also mentioned that anyone is welcome to apply to the Honors Scholars Program, thus accessing the benefit of free laundry. If you have questions or concerns, he is happy to talk with you.
Yes, honors students get “free” laundry. This means that I and my fellow honors students have the opportunity to lug our laundry across campus and wait in usually long lines to use a single washer and dryer.
My laundry still costs me; my payment is merely in time, energy and frustration, not in cash.
Few complain about the increased workload of Honors students, or how we get to work endless hours to present original research in front of scholars, or work to provide The Venue every semester.
You don’t envy our lengthy papers, our difficult tests, or the high expectations we are daily held to as “honors students.” So what? We get “free” laundry. It’s not that big of a deal.
Last week’s columnist also complained about laundry being left unattended and being “forced” to move it.
Really, friends? If you don’t want to move other people’s stuff, don’t. You’re not being forced to. You choose to. Either you can wait until your fellow students come back and take care of their own mess, or you can speed up the system and take care of it yourself. It’s up to you.
If you’re concerned about hair, candy wrappers or old bandages in the washer, make sure you aren’t putting those things in there yourself. Those things belong to you friends, so if you really care about it, don’t blame the University.
Blame your suitemate who doesn’t clean out his or her pockets. You are empowered to fix this problem. If everyone chooses to clean up his or her own messes, there won’t be messes left.
So the problem of laundry is annoying, but there are things we can do about it. Ask some more questions, clean up your own mess, and encourage your friends to do the same.
Maybe I do agree with Seamans after all: “our laundry still has a fighting chance.”