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YDSA stages sit-in protest for free laundry at BU administration’s Student Leaders Conversation Series

Boston University's Young Democratic Socialists of America
Members of Boston University’s Young Democratic Socialists of America held a sit-in protest for the Free Laundry Campaign at the Metcalf Trustee Center Wednesday. Demonstrators gathered outside a dinner for student organization leaders that was hosted by BU senior administrators. NIKOLAY KOLEV/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Boston University’s Young Democratic Socialists of America held a sit-in protest on the ninth floor of the Metcalf Trustee Center Wednesday afternoon to advocate for the ongoing Free Laundry campaign started by the organization last Fall.

The sit-in was held in the hallway outside the Kenmore Conference room where members of BU’s senior administration — including Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore, President Robert Brown and Provost Jean Morrison — hosted a dinner for student organization leaders.

The demonstration follows a protest held by the organization at Marsh Plaza last month to encourage Elmore to meet with the group’s members to discuss making laundry in on-campus residences free. The current price of each wash or dry cycle is $1.75.

BU YDSA Vice President Mikey Dedona, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said the organization did not feel they were being heard after the group had several meetings with Assistant Dean of Students John Battaglino and Associate Vice President of Auxiliary Services Paul Riel.

“Every single meeting has amounted to arbitrary reasons for shutting us down,” he said. “Clearly they’re entertaining us to try to get us to give up without actually having a real conversation with us.”

Dedona said the location of the sit-in was purposefully chosen to coincide with a meeting between the administration and students.

“We’ve exhausted all opportunities for polite conversation so now we’re here, making our demands in person at a student leadership dinner,” Dedona said, “where I think it would make sense that student leaders should be able to have dialogue with their relationship with the administrator.”

A member of the administration spoke to several protestors in the hallway, but declined to comment.

BU spokesperson Colin Riley said the University has already engaged in dialogue with YDSA and he did not recognize the grounds for the sit-in.

“We’ve met with them and we’ll keep their request in mind for the future,” Riley said. “I know that these individuals have met with people so I don’t understand the purpose.”

BU YDSA Information Coordinator and CAS freshman Michael Walsh said, based on these discussions, the organization felt the University was not actually willing to implement YDSA’s demands.

“Eventually it became clear through the meetings,” Walsh said, “that they were not going to really be open about actually talking about free laundry or even subsidized laundry.”

He added the movement was popular with many students on campus and YDSA did not want to let them down.

“We have thousands of students who have signed up and expressed the desire for this campaign to succeed,” Walsh said, “and we don’t want to fail those students.”

CAS senior Marco De Laforcade said they decided to attend the event with their friends who are on the executive board of the BU YDSA.

“I was happy to support them for something like the sit-in, which personally I think is a fantastic way of getting attention,” De Laforcade said

They added they believed protesting in the form of a sit-in would be much more effective than other means.

“You can ask nicely to a certain extent, you can try to reach out and cooperate and try to get administration on your side,” De Laforcade said, “but as the saying goes, ‘power concedes nothing without demand.’”

De Laforcade noted the cost of laundry was “just another barrier” for low-income students the University should eliminate.

“It’s less about just, ‘Oh you know, laundry, it’s not a big deal,” they said. “Well it is a big deal for certain people and in your activism, you have to make sure you’re being inclusive.”

Riley wrote in an email that students experiencing financial issues should communicate with the University directly.

“Individuals with financial hardship should contact the Dean of Students or Financial Assistance office,” he wrote.

Dedona added future plans for the Free Laundry campaign include continuing discussions through official means, involving BU parents and bombarding Riel with phone calls.

“We will be [ringing] the office, making our collective power and collective voice known,” Dedona said, “and let them know that despite their polite dismissals or whatever they may call them, we’re not giving up until we achieve our goal.”

Alexia Nizhny, the 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, the campus associate editor of The Daily Free Press, is the outreach coordinator of BU’s YDSA. She was not involved in the editing of this article.


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One Comment

  1. Oh boy, you know they will just raise other fees right? So instead of my son doing laundry every 2-3 weeks and me paying for that, BU is going to raise fees or housing by 500$

    Did you call your parents first? Did you socially distance during the protest? Too bored because they shut down the Glenville party house?

    If they can nix laundry fees and NOT RAISE ANY OTHER FEE then get it in writing. Otherwise study for finals and go the Hell home.