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Wednesday, Feb 1, 2023

Mercer students won’t be charged to wash, dry clothes

Sophomore Emily Marosek throws clothes in the washer machine in Mercer Hall. She says she is excited about the free laundry.
Sophomore Emily Marosek throws clothes in the washer machine in Mercer Hall. She says she is excited about the free laundry.

A lack of coins or Bear Card funds will no longer stop you from washing your sweaty, ripening shirts and socks.

Mercer students living on-campus won’t be charged when they load their laundry in a washer or dryer. The plan is something that has been talked about by
Auxiliary Services and Residence Life for the past couple of years, said Jeff Takac, director of housing, and Ken Boyer, director of auxiliary services.

“It just makes sense,” he said. “It’s one less thing the students have to worry about.”

But the service isn’t free. The university is still paying Caldwell and Gregory, the company that provides the equipment and maintenance. Mercer is in the middle of a five year contract with that vendor, Boyer said.

Students will also be paying more for their housing this year, but the changes weren’t directly related to the inclusion of no-charge laundry. Takac said the changes weren’t an unreasonable hit, pointing to the potential increase in electricity and utilities use as some of the reasons for the increase.

The university’s more affordable options and those with community style bathrooms saw the smallest or no increases in price at all, Takac said.

A two person room in Plunkett Hall that was $2,490 during the 2015-2016 school year is now $2,540. A four person Garden Apartment runs for $3,265 — an increase from the $3,140 from the previous year. Prices for double occupancy rooms in Boone, Dowell and Roberts Halls remained the same. Costs for single occupancy rooms in Sherwood and Shorter Halls decreased by $95, according to housing price documents provided to The Cluster by the Office of Residence Life.

Though most students are paying more for on-campus housing, Residence Life will not (nor have they ever) get a cut of the laundry money, Takac said.

One of the concerns is that the machines may be overused by students elsewhere coming on campus to wash their clothes, but Boyer dismissed the concern.

“Most schools who have converted to this model find that the wear and tear on the equipment is considerably less. Typically students will be more likely to abide by the weight restrictions and not overload the equipment as much,” Boyer said.

Takac agreed as well.

“It’s important that the residents are using it and that we don’t have non-residents coming in to use it. If you live in downtown and you want to come up here and do your laundry, I don’t think you’re going to do that.”

If that doesn’t deter them, Boyer said usage can be monitored.

“Each machine has electronic meters that track usage every time the machine is cycled,” Boyer said.

Sophomore Emily Marosek said she’s excited about the change because she won’t have to worry about using her friend’s free washer, putting money on her Bear Card or coming up with quarters.

“Now I can do it more often,” she said.

Colin Whalen, also a sophomore, said he feels ambivalent because on-campus housing is overpriced.

“It’s cool but ... It feels like a pat on the back or a nice treat,” he said.

Boyer said the program will continue as far as he knows, but ultimately, the decision is left up to Residence Life.


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