(Photo courtesy of YouVisit) “Sheehy and Concordia Halls are connected, and serve as two of the three resident halls on South Campus.”
As of this semester, UMass Lowell’s laundry machines were made free for residential students. This did raise the cost of housing, but made laundry machines more accessible for many students, such as myself. Despite this positive change, the laundry machines often border on unusable, making it a poor investment of students mandated fee increases.
I am writing this op-ed on Thursday, November 17, and I am in the middle of doing my laundry here. I live in Sheehy Hall. When I went down to do my laundry, four of the six washing machines were broken. The fact that a five floor residence hall with suites only has six washing machines is already a significant underservice to the residence hall community, but the rate at which they break makes laundry undoable many days.
Like many students in the Sheehy-Concordia joint building do when the laundry room on their side is over-occupied or has too many broken machines, I went over to the other laundry room in Concordia. Just one of these were broken, and thankfully not very many others were in use at the time.
While I was able to find a solution to my immediate needs, many students may not. Having a combined twelve laundry machines for the entire Sheehy-Concordia community is too few when they are all working, which is rarely ever. Today was an extreme example, but I have never seen every washing machine working.
Signs in the Concordia laundry room direct us on who to contact if we encounter a broken machine, saying that Residence Life does not know if they are broken unless it is reported. While this may be helpful for people with time to sit around and wait to do laundry, many students live an active and busy lifestyle, and may not have time to wait until a repairman can come and fix a machine.
The idea that the people running the building will not find out about a broken machine unless the students make a report also raises concerns in my eyes. Residence Life staff on duty in the buildings should have the opportunity to go to the laundry room and ensure that it is running well. Part of our large bill to live in these buildings is to ensure that UMass Lowell can afford staffing to keep the building running well, and regular checks on the laundry rooms for broken machines should be a part of that.
This issue is compounded by the complete lack of laundry ethics that many Sheehy-Concordia residents have. Finished laundry will be left unattended by residents for hours, in the washer or dryer. In a building with so few machines, this is unacceptable.
Students on any sort of timeframe are forced to decide between either waiting for the person to retrieve their laundry, waiting for another free time to do laundry or leaving it either on top of the machine or on a laundry room table. Sometimes, I have even seen students fed up enough with waiting to leave wet laundry on the floor.
While it is easy to place all of the blame on the students for having poor laundry etiquette, this issue would simply not be one if our laundry rooms met the needs of a student. Sometimes something comes up with a class, an exam, a study group, a family, a club, a job or any of the vast elements that college students must juggle in their life, forcing them to leave laundry unattended. Our laundry rooms simply do not have enough machines to account for this.
I cannot speak for buildings I do not live in, but Sheehy-Concordia is in the midst of a borderline laundry crisis. Students may be upset with one another when they see all the machines occupied or their laundry left on a table, but at the end of the day, the issue rests with our needs as a community not being fully met. We need more washers, we need more dryers and we need staff to regularly check and fix our machines without student needing to report issues. For the sheer amount we pay to live here, it is what we deserve.