Students are working to make laundry free across Boston University’s campus. BU’s Young Democratic Socialists of America launched an email campaign Nov. 12 to raise awareness and garner student support before addressing administration.
The current cost for a wash or dry cycle is $1.75 for any BU laundry machine. BU YDSA is currently conducting a survey that, as of Thursday evening, has found 45.7 percent of around 40 respondents said they pay more than $10 per month for laundry.
BU YDSA President Anthony Buono said gaining free laundry for students is a “very achievable goal” and could help end a type of “cyclical poverty” on campus.
“Someone who may not be as well-off as the other people in their community would have less clothes, which means they’d have to do laundry more often,” Buono said, “which means they are most damaged by the recurring laundry costs.”
BU YDSA member Arlo Hatcher, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, said laundry expenses are not covered by scholarships, loans or grants given to students.
“It’s an extra cost that students have to pay, where if they’re already here on a scholarship,” Hatcher said, “it’s still something that’s expensive for them.”
The BU YDSA is working alongside Student Government members to obtain an official endorsement from StuGov and to encourage other student groups to get involved.
Phase one of the initiative is to build an email list by placing flyers in BU’s laundry rooms with QR codes that allow students to add themselves to the email list, Buono said. He added the group will work during Winter Intersession to find more supporters.
Phase two is to confront BU administration, either through StuGov or outside means, by using the laundry email list as a petition to display how many students feel that the laundry costs are an “unjust burden,” he said.
BU YDSA also hopes to obtain an independent audit next semester of how much laundry services actually cost the University, Buono said, to determine whether BU is profiting off of the laundry costs or using funds for upkeep. He said he would be “highly disappointed” if the former proved true.
Buono said now is the perfect time to launch the campaign — which the group has been considering for some time — because of the pandemic.
“Especially now with [COVID-19], when everybody’s in economic stress,” Buono said, “I think this is something that a lot of people would benefit from.”
Hatcher said he believes it is “ridiculous” students have to pay for laundry on top of the tuition cost, along with associated supplies like detergent.
BU spokesperson Colin Riley declined to comment on BU YDSA’s push for free laundry, but he discussed the University’s recent installation of Greenwald Pay, an app that can be used to pay for laundry in all BU laundry facilities. The app is separate from convenience points and University billing.
Riley said the installation is COVID-19-related.
“The whole reason behind this is to try to make it easier and contactless as much as possible,” Riley said.
GPay, Riley wrote in an email, also eliminates the need for cash-to-coin conversions before doing laundry.
Buono said he thinks the University is using the system to increase profitability when it could work toward helping students by providing them with laundry services.
Evan Porco, a freshman in CAS, said that he disapproves of BU charging students for laundry.
“We’re already shoveling out $70,000 a year to go here, so I feel like the least they can do is give us some free laundry,” Porco said.
Porco said he would consider using GPay in the laundry rooms because of the inconvenience of finding quarters to use.
CAS freshman Demi Ring said she thinks it is unnecessary to pay for laundry at the prices BU asks. She added BU could cover the cost of detergent, like some laundromats do, to reduce costs for students.
“It’s just already so expensive,” Ring said. “I think I wouldn’t have as much of an issue paying for it if it didn’t cost as much as it does, but I do think it should be included.”