Opinions, Editorials

It’s Time To Talk About Laundry at BC

The University has a laundry problem, and it has not taken steps to address it.

On a scale rating the laundry experience at Boston College from 1 to 10 (with 1 being “I’m completely dissatisfied” and 10 being “I’m completely satisfied”), more than 60 students polled by a Heights survey gave an average satisfaction rating of 4.47 out of 10. This is unacceptable for a school of BC’s caliber. 

Over the past two weeks, The Heights Editorial Board conducted a survey to gauge the general experience of BC undergraduate students’ experience doing laundry on campus. Publicized in two newsletters, the survey was available to all BC students, and several had something to say. 

Survey respondents typically use a BC-provided washer or dryer between one and 10 times per month. According to the survey results, the average BC student has a problem when using a BC washer about 27.8 percent of the time and a problem when using a BC dryer about 39.5 percent of the time.

When given the chance to comment on their experience, several students shared frustration with the laundry service. Many felt that their laundry rooms have too few machines to support the building, some commented that machines are dirty and broken, and one student even reported running as many as five cycles in a BC dryer to get one load of laundry dry.

And when one load in the washer or dryer costs $1.75, these repeat loads start to add up fast. 93.5 percent of survey respondents believe that the price of laundry is not reasonable. Of these individuals, all believe that laundry should cost less than $1.00, with 71.7 percent believing that it should be free. When asked to comment, several students cited the high cost of living on campus as a reason laundry should be free. One student reported paying upwards of $200 on laundry per year thanks to malfunctioning washers and dryers necessitating multiple loads.

The results of the survey suggest that problems with BC’s laundry services are not being regularly addressed by the Office of Residential Life or its contractor. 

Students who have problems with laundry machines can put in work orders that are then fulfilled by BC’s contractor, CSC ServiceWorks. Doing this for the first time, however, is not instantaneous. Students must download CSC’s app in the App Store, find and report their broken machine’s ID number, and then explain the specific issue with the laundry machine in an online form. 

This process, though a bit time-consuming, would be a decent supplement to a functional system of regular laundry inspections and repair. But the frequency of routine laundry maintenance at BC is unclear.

Work orders do not keep up with laundry dysfunction, and many hurried students must spend an extra $1.75 and waste around 25–70 minutes to wash and dry their clothes over, and over, again. It adds up to many wasted hours and dollars. 

By putting the burden of reporting laundry repair to busy students, ResLife fails to create a self-sustaining system to clean students’ clothes. And, by directing students to handle laundry problems with the University’s contractor, ResLife fails to take responsibility for the dysfunction of a critical element of on-campus life. 

ResLife has not commented when asked by The Heights to provide answers to relevant questions about laundry services. The Heights Editorial Board reached out multiple times to ResLife staff to discuss these issues between March and September 2023, who either did not respond or referred to other staff within the department who also did not respond.

It does not have to be this way. Fordham University has a similarly chaotic laundry system, but it provides laundry services to on-campus students for free. The Jesuit university even rolled out a free laundry service for off-campus students in September 2021. Other schools are following suit. Dartmouth installed new, free washers and dryers for use starting this fall, and Columbia advertises free laundry services as well. If BC cannot make its laundry systems consistently functional, the least it could do is reduce the cost.  

Students have pointed out frustrations with laundry services for years, with little to no change from the University. The University’s only recent shift in laundry policy is a limited laundry subsidy program for Montserrat students created by UGBC—which relies on an all-too-limited discretionary budget to stay alive. 

BC needs to address its laundry problems. It is doing students no favors by ignoring so many instances of wasted time and money. Whether BC decides to take its laundry issues into its own hands, revise its relationship with CSC ServiceWorks, or reduce the price of laundry, it is time the University takes action to create proper living standards for its student body.

Editor’s note: While The Heights Editorial Board acknowledges our poll was not a perfect sample, we utilized it to generate numerical data instead of relying on anecdotes.

September 24, 2023