The typical Swarthmore student might encounter multiple obstacles when trying to do their laundry on campus. Although it is a positive step to have laundry services included in tuition prices, the college’s few and faulty machines pose considerable challenges. Functioning laundry services are inconsistent and contingent on dormitory amenities. For example, take the “Danawell” complex (Dana, Danawell, and Hallowell).
There are three washers and three dryers in each part of the Danawell complex. In addition to the overall lack of machines to accommodate its 257 residents, the laundry machines always take longer than their intended time to use. If one is lucky enough to obtain an empty washer, there is a good chance that the spin cycle of that machine simply does not work. This results in clothing at the end of the cycle coming out sopping wet. Residents must then choose between individually wringing out each item of clothing or putting them through the dryer, which can sometimes take hours, as multiple hour-long cycles are necessary. This, of course, assumes that the dryer is functioning as well. Several in the building will run for the allotted hour but never heat up.
Taking note of the washing machines’ ill-functioning rinse and spin cycles, a sophomore student living in Hallowell said, “The tide pods always get plastered onto my clothes.”
A sophomore student living in Dana said, “It’s always a gamble. Sometimes I take my clothes out of the wash, and they are soaking wet, so I have to dry them for two or three cycles.”
After residents are done gambling with the dryers, clothing often emerges either musty or singed, or even shrunken. The dryers continually wear down or ruin clothes, potentially creating a socioeconomic barrier for those that cannot afford to purchase new clothing.
“I had to run my blanket through the dryer several times because of how damp it was staying, and by the end, it got too hot. Now it has a couple burn marks,” shared a sophomore Danawell resident.
We also cannot help but wonder if running antiquated dryers on maximum heat for three to four hours poses a potential fire hazard.
To complicate matters, students sometimes find themselves in uncomfortable competitive environments, walking the length of Hallowell to Dana to use the first working machine that’s ready. Not only does this waste time, but it also forces students to try to put their laundry into a machine before someone else can. Access to dryers becomes even more limited as they take longer to use.
Several residents have reported the laundry machine situation to Workbox and Swarthmore maintenance. The solution, thus far, has been merely to slap an out-of-order sign on the ill-functioning machines, which is not a permanent solution for the 257 students in the complex. This solution may not be the fault of Workbox, but rather, a misallocation of Swarthmore’s massive budget. Swarthmore needs to purchase functioning machines if they want to claim that student tuition will cover laundry.
At the end of the day, 15% of the student body lives in the “Danawell” complex. Therefore, at least 15% of our campus struggle to clean their clothes on a regular basis. Students should not have to spend hours doing laundry only for their clothes to come out less than clean. The Phoenix Editorial Board proposes that the Office of Student Engagement increase the laundry capacity and update the laundry equipment in student dormitories.