By Mary Yukich
I have to admit, when I first heard that a campus-wide laundry system update would allow students to pay for laundry with a card instead of coins, I was excited. Quarters are germy, and they smell weird — not to mention that it’s a bit annoying to run out of quarters on laundry day. I was looking forward to the new and improved laundry system, but when I found out what the change would cost me, my enthusiasm was quickly deflated.
Let’s review some numbers. Last year, I lived on campus for 32 weeks, and on average I did one load of laundry per week at $1.50 per load. At that rate, I estimate that I spent $48 to wear clean clothes during my freshman year.
From now on, however, I can expect to pay $3.00 per load. Assuming I continue to wash one load per week, I will spend $96 on laundry this year — twice as much as last year. Multiply this extra cost ($48 more per year) by the three more years I plan to live on campus, and you get $144. That’s the amount I’ll need to cough up over the next three years in order to account for the laundry system improvement. The “Speed Queen” app is available for free from the Google Play Store, but according to my calculations, it’s going to cost me $144 — whether I choose to use it or not. That’s a pretty expensive app if you ask me.
Of course, I’m not worried that the new laundry prices are going to run me into financial ruin, but I was forced to face the significance of the change when I thought about a few other ways a college student would have been able to use that $144. With $144, one could buy 817 packs of Ramen Noodles. Or, it could be used to pay for three annual parking passes and three Spring Sing tickets. $114 would fill up my gas tank three times — close to enough to make the 24-hour round trip to be home for Christmas.
Sure, the new laundry system has brought us a few posh conveniences, such as paying with a card, starting the washer by tapping your phone instead of pressing an old-fashioned button on the machine, and checking machine availability from your room rather than walking down to the laundry room. But all of this comes at a significant cost. Laundry prices have doubled, and students have lost the flexibility of paying for increments of dryer time as needed.
Although I am not convinced that the laundry system update was in the best interest of the student body, I understand that the decision has been made, whether I agree with it or not. What I propose is simply this: let us be very cautious about our increasing attachment to the apps that reside in our pockets. Is it possible that we’ve become willing to pay too much for a bit of convenience?