When I toured colleges in high school, I looked in two areas: the Midwest and New England. What was the biggest difference between the two regions? What was the most startling distinction between the campuses of “Great White North” and the “Beautiful Berkshires?” Two words: free laundry.
More and more colleges in the Midwest are getting rid of the obnoxious “coin and card” systems in their basements and are instituting up-front fees in tuition for unlimited campus laundry use. Stanford added unlimited laundry service in 2004 after Princeton reported a highly favorable response to their unlimited student laundry program.
Initial arguments against these programs say that unlimited laundry use will cause water waste on campus, as there is little incentive for students to decrease their laundry use without an upfront cost.
But Stanford reports that even with the implementation of unlimited laundry, their students are averaging three to four loads of laundry per month, while the national average of college students is five. More importantly, unlimited laundry use decreases the incentive for students to overstuff machines. Overstuffing machines increases the water consumption and drying time per load, decreasing overall efficiency. Unlimited laundry programs decrease the amount of maintenance on the machines and increase the machines’ lifespan.
So Williams, I challenge you to free us from the binds of coins and jammed cards. Let us wash when we need to, not when we scrounge up the quarters. Lessen the burden of overflowing machines and jammed cards and coins on facilities. But most importantly, make our campus smell good.
Steph Berger ’11