Editorial: Task force should prioritize laundry room issues
One of Brandeis’ enduring infrastructural problems is the atrocious laundry system. In a Jan. 28 email to the Brandeis community, University President Ron Liebowitz announced the creation of a third task force to address campus infrastructure. This board urges the task force to consider improving laundry on campus.
The primary issue is a lack of machines. In the Ziv Quad, for instance, each building only has three washers and three dryers (or two, in Ziv 130) — one of each for every 30 (or 45) residents. In Skyline, a much newer building with plenty of unused space, there are only four washing machines, or one washer for every 40 residents — although there are six dryers, one for every 27 residents. At least in Skyline, the machines consistently work; in Ziv, students can expect at least one of the three washers to be broken at any given moment. Even when all the machines are functioning, the card reader is often broken. Fixing the card readers would be a good start; alternatively, the school could simply include laundry as a pre-paid component of tuition and ditch the card readers entirely. In the meantime, installing new, functional machines would be a worthwhile investment.
The problem of consistently out-of-order laundry machines is in part due to the practice of unplugging the card readers to get free laundry. In addition to almost causing fires, unplugging the card swipe creates an error code and the machines “cannot be used again until they are serviced, which needs to be done by an external contractor,” as reported in a Nov. 13, 2018 Justice article. Unplugging the card readers also resets the timer on loads that are currently running, a major annoyance for students.
Furthermore, a number of laundry rooms are too small for more than one student to use at a time. In Ziv, Rosie and Skyline (and maybe East and Ridgewood?), there is no space for a table to put clothes on, a necessary laundry room feature considering that students often wait hours (or days) to remove their laundry from the dryers. Students hoping to do their laundry in these buildings frequently have to wait or else dump the other person’s laundry in other machines, a random hamper, or on the floor.
To complicate matters further, timers are unreliable in most machines, as they frequently run longer than their allotted time. This problem causes students to leave their laundry unattended for long periods of time, decreasing the number of available washers for other students.
In addition, the entire laundry room system is inherently inaccessible to students with disabilities. Laundry rooms are often in buildings’ basements, either entirely inaccessible or accessible only through extremely out-of-the-way routes, such as those in the Charles River Apartments. Also, the card swipe machines display their instructions visually and do not have a setting which reads out the prompts. Although this board appreciates steps the University has taken to make laundry rooms more accessible, such as applying clear plastic braille sheets over washer and dryer buttons in Skyline, fundamental problems remain.
This board calls on the University to install more and better washers and dryers in laundry rooms and to add tables for storing and folding laundry when space allows. The University should also renovate laundry rooms to create a system like Skyline’s, where card swipe machines cannot be unplugged.
Clarification: A previous version of this article had identified the infrastructure-related task-force as responsible for resolving many laundry room issues. At the time of the publishing of this article, this task force had not yet been created.