Laundry is not cheap, especially not at Tufts. This year, for the first time in a decade, the price of laundry has noticeably increased by 16 to 20 percent. Costing a minimum of $3 for a full washing and drying cycle, laundry is a costly endeavor for students. The price tag and the frequency in which students do laundry make this problem absolutely consequential.
According to Forbes, students who do laundry every other week spend more than $200 over their four years on campus. For a person who is financially independent and working a minimum-wage job, this is a significant personal financial burden. Coupled with groceries, food, textbooks and other expenses, the costs of college swell. Recently, more universities, such as Davidson College and Columbia University, have been offering free laundry, and the latter has an undergraduate population of a similar size to Tufts.
The problem of laundry is not isolated to the cost, but also the quality. The washing machines themselves are often inefficient, dirty and broken. Consequently, clothes get destroyed. These machines also tend to be quite small, and while this is an understandable space-saving measure, the result is that students have to do a load of laundry either more frequently or splurge on several washing machines at once. Meanwhile, the dryers are frequently in need of repair, and clothes often remain wet at the end of a cycle. “Two out of the three dryers on my side of Wren have been broken since the beginning of the year, and I find that people end up wasting their money by trying the same dryer multiple times,” Ethan Isenman, a sophomore living in Wren Hall, said. Isenman’s comment reveals both the lousy state of Tufts’ laundry machines and the difficulties of fixing this problem when the machine repairs are outsourced.
“I spend at least $30 a semester on laundry, which is frankly ridiculous considering how much Tufts is already charging us,” Alexa Rudolph, a sophomore who lives in West Hall, said. This is a problem that affects practically every student. Tufts should begin to subsidize students’ laundry, at the very least for students on financial aid. Even a small reduction in price would go a long way. Tufts needs to stop treating laundry like a luxury good and start treating it as what it is: a necessity that every student needs but that not every student can afford.
Another major problem lies with the fact that there are often insufficient washers and dryers to meet student demand, leading to backlogs. While the Tufts Mobile app and LaundryView website does let students know when laundry machines become available, it doesn’t change the fact that students sometimes have to wait hours for laundry machines to become available. While it is understandable that dorms have limited space for these machines, Tufts should consider increasing the numbers of washers and dryers in each dorm, especially ones which recently underwent “bed optimization” where some singles became doubles and doubles became triples.
Laundry may not be an obvious issue, but that does not mean it is any less important. Laundry is an issue that affects students’ finances and time. Even small corrections to the flaws in Tufts’ laundry service would bring about large benefits for everyone. Tufts should ensure that its laundry service is no longer washed-up.