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BU YDSA protests for free laundry at Marsh Plaza

young democratic socialists of america protesters hold signs in support of free laundry at boston university
Young Democratic Socialists of America protesters in Marsh Plaza. YDSA hosted a demonstration Friday in favor of free laundry on campus. AARON VELASCO/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Boston University’s Young Democratic Socialists of America protested outside Marsh Chapel Friday for free laundry, citing a lack of response from administrators.

BU spokesperson Colin Riley wrote in an email that YDSA representatives met with a BU administrative official and they were advised students with financial need should refer to the University’s Financial Assistance Office or Dean of Students.

“We will keep the request in mind as we move ahead in the future,” Riley wrote in the email.

Laundry expenses have not risen since 2017, he added. The current price is $1.75 for each wash or dry cycle.

BU YDSA President Anthony Buono, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said the group chose to protest in person to encourage Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore to meet with them.

“What else do we have to do to get a conversation with the administration about how to implement the student body’s wanted agenda?” he said. “There’s no process in place, and that’s so frustrating. So, because of that, we have to be out here and gaining more support.”

But after talks with Associate Vice President of Auxiliary Services Paul Riel, who Assistant Dean of Students John Battaglino put them in contact with, Buono noted that Elmore said the University had made its decision.

“This is about creating more student power in order to fight back against administration that isn’t responsive to student voices,” he said. “That’s clear by Dean Elmore’s complete dismissal of us.”

Buono said YDSA’s announcement of an in-person protest prompted Battaglino to schedule another meeting with YDSA and Riel.

He noted Battaglino said in a recent phone call he was open to working with YDSA to implement free laundry for low-income students, but YDSA was going to keep pushing for its original proposal.

“I want Dean Elmore there because he’s the next one higher up,” Buono said.

Riel had said the 2022-2023 BU budget had already been written prior to their meeting, which Buono said was unfortunate.

“That budgetary thing was very disheartening,” Buono said, “to see that our future’s already been written for two years, and no student knew about that.”

Buono said YDSA worked to follow COVID-19 guidelines during the protest to ensure student health and safety, by wearing masks, having readily available hand sanitizer and gloves and checking protesters’ green badges.

One thousand eight hundred students, the BU Student Government and other student organizations have shown their support for the Free Laundry campaign, he said.

“Once we show that student organization can get things done,” Buono said, “a student institution will be unstoppable.”

YDSA Vice President and CAS junior Mikey Dedona said the group intended to gather greater support for the Free Laundry movement with this in-person protest and show the University how many students support the idea.

“The more people we have on our side,” Dedona said, “the bigger message we send to the administration.”

With the circumstances of the pandemic and the emergent importance of cleanliness, Dedona said the University administration has it well within their capacity to pay for laundry expenses, considering the substantial tuition cost students pay every school year.

Dedona noted YDSA will organize additional protests if their demands for free laundry are not met.

“I will not rest until they give us the response we want,” Dedona said.

Questrom School of Business senior Stephanie Forbes said making students pay for laundry was not logical when taking into account BU’s large tuition costs and the fact that other universities pay for their students’ laundry expenses.

“I think it’s a pretty crazy thought that we go to such an expensive school with so many resources,” she said, “and we still have to pay so much for laundry.”

Forbes noted she was skeptical of the measure being implemented, but students organizing for the cause was a promising step.

“Given what I know about the administration, it probably isn’t going to be a quick fix,” Forbes said, “but I hope that at least seeing this will kind of make them consider it.”

She added free laundry could potentially come about as a component of a financial aid package for students.

“Students have a collective voice and should definitely be using it,” Forbes said.

College of General Studies sophomore Noam Metivier said BU’s tuition cost should cover laundry.

“I think that could be included in that with no problem,” he said.“I can’t imagine it’s a huge source of revenue for BU.”

Metivier said it would be a surprise if the administration took action toward YDSA’s demands.

“I’d be surprised if the administration changes anything,” he said. “I’d love it to change, it’d be great.”

Alexia Nizhny, layout and graphics editor of The Daily Free Press, is the treasurer of BU’s YDSA. She was not involved in the editing of this article.

Vanessa Bartlett, campus associate editor, is the outreach coordinator of BU’s YDSA. She was not involved in the editing of this article.

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