The Tufts Chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America created a petition calling on the university to provide free use of laundry machines in all residence halls. They join groups like the Tufts Community Union Senate to examine how laundry costs act as a barrier to fairness, though their proposed solutions differ.
“Tufts claims to be anti-racist and fair, but charging money for laundry disproportionately burdens low-income students, who are disproportionately students of color,” Tufts YDSA wrote in an open letter to the president of Anthony Monaco University. “It’s just another way Tufts contributes to systems that widen wealth gaps and increase the cost of living for students of color and low-income students.”
Use of washers and dryers in residence halls costs $1.50 per cycle, paid through the school’s JumboCash system. Currently, a single wash costs at least $3.00, although due to additional drying costs, many students pay more than that to wash their clothes.
“I think it’s important because those little fees add up, especially when you regularly have to pay extra for drying,wrote freshman TCU senator Ayomide Oloyede in an email to The Daily.. “After all, the 60 minutes allocated often does not completely dry your clothes. In addition, the volume capacity of clothes dryers often requires you to carry out several loads. »
As a representative of the FIRST community, Oloyede said he focuses his efforts on helping low-income students.
“I believe that laundry is not a burden or barrier for most students on campus,” he wrote. “At most, it’s melittle annoyance. What I mean by this is that most students on campus can comfortably afford the laundry fee, while it’s more of a barrier for many low-income students.
While Oloyede and the TCU Senate aren’t the first to address the issue, senators have made laundry assistance a priority over years past.
“This has been a goal for the TCU Senate long before I took office; however, it requires institutional support and a dedicated funding stream to have longevity,” Oloyede wrote. “I would venture to say that we have arguably made the most progress this semester than in previous years.”
Tufts YDSA has a bigger goal: to get Tufts to completely eliminate the costs associated with laundry in dormitories. They cite free access to the washing machine at similar college facilities as a way to pressure the university to make the change.
“Tufts is one of the most expensive private universities in the country. We are already paying about $9,000 in residence fees, and laundry is not included in that,” Neelan Martin, president of Tufts YDSA, wrote in an email to The Daily. “When we started our research, we found that top universities in the country, such as Columbia and Stanford, had free laundry programs.”
Oloyede worries that the cost of universally free laundry is simply being passed on to students in a different way.
“I would love to be wrong, and I think it’s fantastic that students are working towards that; I just took a different approach and am aiming for a slightly different end goal,” Oloyede wrote.
Tufts YDSA argues that free laundry access could be funded from the university’s rapidly growing $2.7 billion endowment.
“Tufts University is well positioned to be a leader in this area,” Tufts YDSA wrote in the letter. “Tufts’ endowment has grown significantly over the past two years (increasing by $750 million in fiscal 2021 alone), and we’ve had more applicants and students admitted than ever before.”
The administration says requests to reduce laundry costs will be reviewed in the coming months.
“The issue of access to and affordability of laundry services at Tufts residence halls has already been raised by members of the TCU Senate, and representatives from a number of offices will meet with them in December to discuss their concerns and ideas,” Patrick Collins, executive director of media relations at Tufts, wrote in an email to The Daily. “Separately, the President’s office has received the Tufts YDSA petition and will forward it to the appropriate parties for consideration.”
Martin said Tufts YDSA hopes to spread their petition as widely as possible, but that’s not where their efforts end.
“We want to show the administration that this is an issue that students care about,” Martin said. “I hope they will listen to the petition and work to make laundry free. But, if they don’t, we have some ideas on how to prove to the administration that making laundry free is important to people. Tufts YDSA is very committed to this issue, and the petition is just the beginning of our work.
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