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Laundry services should be improved

By Zach Phil Schwartz

Section: Opinions

March 13, 2015

There’s no doubt most of us have come across laundry troubles in our time here at Brandeis. Those who haven’t maybe should invest in a lottery ticket. The process of lugging and doing laundry is strenuous and stressful as it is without the headaches the machines cause us. The machines and the payment system as a whole are hassles on the best of days and downright miserable on the worst of days. As more calls are placed to our laundry repair service, it becomes more evident that the time has come to modernize some student laundry rooms.

I’m not even making assumptions when I say that some of the laundry rooms are ancient and need modernization; there are actual markers boasting the ages of the rooms. For example, Massell’s Shapiro laundry room has a magazine mounted on the wall that is apparently designed for the viewing of bored laundry-going students. It doesn’t seem out of the ordinary until you see that the thing dates back to 1989. It hasn’t been changed since. The machines in that room break down and falter on a near-daily basis, invoking groans from frustrated residents of the entire quad.

The collective groans in Massell Quad, caused by a relative lack of open machines in the rest of the quad, resonate around many of our other quads. North has two laundry rooms for the entire quad, while Castle has few machines; fewer of them actually work. The Rosenthal Quad has it worse, with only one laundry room for all 120 residents, with a number of machines remaining nonfunctional.

Paying for the machines is almost as much of a hassle as setting out from a residence hall in pursuit of a working laundry machine or dryer is. The two options, quarters and WhoCash, are also frustrating to use. In a perfect world, if you have enough quarters, and the machines are even taking them, you’re fine. If you don’t have enough, the Student Service Bureau up at Usdan is awaiting your visit. If the machines’ connection to the WhoCash card reader isn’t severed, you’re fine. If it is severed, you’re going to need to find another machine, use quarters or not do laundry.

It’s time to modernize the laundry apparatus on campus. As a necessity for students, we just cannot afford subpar machine performance. One of my professors once emphasized how there is no more important resource than time, and that couldn’t be more true for students. We need time to study, to do homework, to eat and to sleep. We don’t need to be blowing time on fiddling with laundry machines because the infrastructure is outdated.

In order to minimize lost time to unintended laundry fiascos, all that is needed is a simple infrastructure upgrade. Newer machines would definitely help with the persistent issue of broken ones. The payment mechanisms should definitely be at the forefront of machine upgrades, with a more flexible monetary payment system. Quarters are an acceptable payment method, but the machines should also accept dollar bills so that the forgetful resident without WhoCash doesn’t have to scavenge for quarters. Those with WhoCash should also not need to worry about paying for laundry. The machines should be equipped with individual WhoCard readers so that external readers don’t eat money without enabling the machine to run.

The university should invest in not only installing new machines but also installing more machines. In this way, fewer students would be plagued by a scarcity of laundry machines and dryers on laundry day. Maybe then, students won’t have to run across their quads to clean their clothes. Finally, it may benefit the current student population if the laundry room wall magazine is updated by roughly 20 years. As much as I love to read about The Who’s newest endeavors on the wall of the Shapiro laundry room, I think it’s getting a tad old.

A hopefully vital component to student life, doing laundry shouldn’t be time consuming. It should be a quick, in-and-out break from other more important uses of time. Unfortunately, the university’s outdated laundry and dryer machine infrastructure makes it so this once-speedy activity is a huge waste of time. More frighteningly, the time factor may prompt other students to stall doing laundry altogether. Laundry room-related situations are all easily preventable, thankfully. My message to the university: Updating the laundry infrastructure is well worth the cost of doing so.

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