New laundry program to limit use but improve machines

Caption. (John Kruger/TommieMedia)
With Residence Life's new laundry program, facilities such as this one in Cretin Hall will receive "deserved" updates. (John Kruger/TommieMedia)

Residence Life released the plan for a new laundry program Wednesday that will pull revenue from students’ room and board rates in 2010 to update laundry facilities and improve sustainability throughout campus.

Residence Life Director Aaron Macke said the new laundry program will result in machine repairs and replacements and improved sustainability in the residence halls. The program will affect residents living in both traditional and apartment-style housing.

“It’s a sensible, responsible way to do this,” Macke said about the new laundry program. “Our residents should start seeing card swipes fixed, fewer broken down machines and new machines in our halls each year over a period of time.”

Macke said between 0.5 percent and 1 percent of the revenue brought in by the room and board rates in 2010 will be put toward laundry maintenance and upgrades, which auxiliary services will oversee.

“We are not about nickeling and diming students, and we’re not charging at the machines,” Macke said. “We’re going to allocate a portion of the room rate to our laundry program.”

The St. Thomas Board of Trustees is working on approving room and board rates for 2010.

New machines

Macke said most of the current washers and dryers will be replaced with more efficient machines that are environmentally friendly and dependable for students.

“What we’re hoping to do with this allotment that we’re pulling out of the room rate is to replace 10 to 20 machines a year,” Macke said. “The residents just flat out deserve better in terms of our laundry facilities with our machines.”

Flynn Hall resident and junior Frank Mahoney is hesitant about the new laundry program.

“I like that it’s not just pay as you go and it’s getting new machines, but I also don’t like it because it raises the costs of living here,” Mahoney said. “It’s adding the expenses I pay for because I’m paying for college.”

Limiting swipes, saving energy

Residents next year will also be limited to 12 card swipes every two weeks. This means residents can wash and dry three loads of clothes per week.

“We’re not doing this as any kind of consequence,” Macke said. “We think it’s responsible for us to manage the swipes, washes and dries because machines get overused, and it’s not sustainable.”

Residents swipe their ID cards through a machine to activate a washer or dryer. They are currently allowed an unlimited amount of swipes per week.

Macke believes 12 swipes every two weeks is a good amount for students who do laundry on a regular basis.

“We did several focus groups on this,” Macke said about limiting swipes. “We talked to the Residence Hall Association and the Undergraduate Student Government, and they think that’s very fair in terms of what most students are doing.”

Junior Wendy Lor, who’s applying for on-campus housing for next year, doesn’t want her card swipes regulated.

“I don’t like the swiping idea,” Lor said. “It limits you to the freedom that St. Thomas normally gives you.”

Macke noted that every time the university pays an energy bill, students’ tuition dollars are used to pay it.

“[We do] anything we can do to keep our costs down, do what’s responsible in terms of sustainability and provide you a better product,” Macke said.

But Mahoney thinks limiting card swipes won’t affect energy costs.

“No one really uses their card that much, and I don’t feel like it will save any energy,” Mahoney said.

Lor shares Mahoney’s beliefs.

“I think it’s a good idea for saving energy, but I don’t feel that students are swiping their cards and using up energy that much,” Lor said.

The new card swipe machines will display the remaining amount of swipes each time a resident activates a machine. The tentative plan is to have the card swipes reloaded every other Wednesday.

Free laundry

St. Thomas adopted free laundry when Flynn Hall, formerly Selby Hall, opened in the fall of 2005.

Lor said it was one of the luxuries that made St. Thomas appealing as a high school senior.

“One of the first things I remember my tour guide saying when I came to St. Thomas was ‘free laundry,’” Lor said. “I think it’s going to make St. Thomas more unappealing as far as prospective students.”

Macke explained that laundry with unlimited swipes wasn’t entirely free, because “there [were] still costs to running those machines, and that cost comes from tuition dollars, room dollars and whatever else.”

Though some students may be disheartened about the new laundry program, Macke is hopeful the program will be a success.

“I’m excited about it. I think it’s a good thing,” he said. “Over time, I think most people will come to see this [decision] made sense.”

Miles Trump can be reached at mailto:

3 Replies to “New laundry program to limit use but improve machines”

  1. I think this is a great idea. The machines here are pretty inefficient and very unsustainable. When I first heard that they were thinking of taking away the free laundry entirely, I was pretty annoyed and upset. I think that three loads of laundry a week is plenty! Who needs more than that, anyways? Besides, was the laundry really “free” before this? All along it has been included in a room and board price. I really am not seeing this as a big deal, just a new adjustment and change. This is a great plan to help UST become a more sustainable campus.

  2. I completely understand why they have chosen to limit the amount, especially since some students have abused the unlimited amount by allowing friends that don’t live on campus use their card. The only thing I don’t like about the new plan is the fact that it is a set amount for every 2 weeks. I don’t always get around to my laundry on a regular basis, and so if I don’t use it in 2 weeks, I’m going to loose those washes that I’m paying for. I’m curious why it needs to be on a 2 week basis – why can’t it just be that set amount for the semester?

  3. I feel like a budget for washing machines was already built into the reidence hall budget, or it should have been. So the board saying they are adding washing machines to the budget is simply their excuse for raising our costs. I don’t use the laundry very much anyway but it angers me when they limit our benefits and raise our costs. As for us deserving better laundry facilities, that is true but we deserve better in many areas and all of those are put off in favor of flashy projects that the university an use to advertise. I am convinced when prospective students visit theywillstill be told we have free laundry. I think the University needs to provide its students break-down of its spending so we can see where the money we are paying for tuition and room and board is being used.

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