by Dawn March, Staff Writer
by Kylie McGinnis, Photographer
Whether students do their laundry once a week, or once every few months, doing laundry is an inevitable part of living on campus. Recently, however, there have been many complaints from residents about the laundry room in Wimmer Hall.
At the end of the 2009-2010 school year, the Student Government Association wrote in their bulletin, the SGA QuikRead, that new washers and dryers would be put in Wimmer’s laundry area. Sophomore Miranda Crosby, said, “I thought all of the washers and dryers were going to be new, so I was excited since I knew I was going to be living in Wimmer.” This was a common misconception amongst students. All of the current washers and dryers are from previous years.
Most of the complaints from Wimmer residents, though, concern the amount of washers and dryers. Currently, there are four washers and four dryers in the laundry room located in Wimmer, which houses 172 residents. That leaves 43 students per washer and dryer set.
Anita Vescovi, a junior, said that she thinks the biggest problem about the Wimmer laundry room is the lack of machines, and in her opinion, more machines need to be put in place. Vescovi also stated she has had problems with broken machines. “It took my jeans two hours to dry one time,” she explained.
The availability of dryers is also a problem, since washing clothes takes approximately 30 minutes, while drying clothes can take up to one hour. Steven Heiser, a sophomore, has not had any bad experiences, but said that it does take him a long time to do laundry.
“Mathematically, we should have twice as many dryers as washers, since it takes twice as long for clothes to dry,” he said. Sophomore Sarah Rebitch avoids doing her laundry on campus altogether. Instead, she takes her laundry home, because it takes too long to complete in the Wimmer laundry room.
Students also complain about the lack of courtesy among students who use the laundry room. Frequently, if laundry is not moved or claimed, other students will take it upon themselves to transfer others’ laundry. Heiser was unaware of the “Laundry Room Guidelines” placed in every laundry room on campus by SGA to help prevent improper laundering etiquette, saying, “I take clothes out of the washer if I need a machine. I don’t wait 15 minutes.” Heiser suggested the implementation of more counter space or bins to place other students’ laundry in when they do not transfer it in the proper amount of time.
Sophomore Alyson Schratz, a sixth floor Wimmer resident, said she wishes there was a laundry room on every floor, as “it would make doing laundry so much easier, since it’s always hard to find a machine available.”
Jenna Thomas, a sophomore, explained one of her bad experiences with the Wimmer laundry area. “One time I went to get my clothes out of the washer, and they were sitting in two inches of water,” she said, “they took forever to dry.” She also added, though, that she did not report this issue to the Facilities Management Office. A lack of reporting problems to FMO is what Wimmer Hall FMO Maintenance Employee Chuck Unferdorfer believes is one of the reasons washer and dryer problems are not fixed quickly and efficiently.
Unferdorfer said that FMO does not often get student complaints about the Wimmer washers and dryers, although occasionally “students take it upon themselves and report problems to FMO.” Students more often complain to other students and prefects. If FMO is not made aware of a washer or dryer problem, they cannot have it fixed in a quick and efficient manner. Usually reports about broken machines come from FMO workers themselves, including Unferdorfer and Sue Ann Murphy, an FMO Custodian in Wimmer Hall. Unferdorfer said that he has reported three dryers and one washer to be serviced since the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year.
“There has been talk about new machines for almost two years now, but nothing has happened,” Unferdorfer explained. When a machine is reported as broken or damaged, FMO calls the company from where the washers and dryers are leased. “They are usually pretty good about coming out to fix the machines,” Unferdorfer said.
Vicky Booth, Custodial Supervisor at FMO, explained that the machines are leased through a contract with Continental Laundry Systems, located in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. She clarified that the FMO employees cannot fix the machines because of the contract, and the Continental employees must come out to Saint Vincent to fix the damaged machines. FMO has had a few machines checked by Continental for being overly noisy and not heating properly. Booth also explained that many of the FMO employees who look into complaints about the washers and dryers find a variety of objects in the machines that could also lead to damages causing machines to work improperly.
“They’ve found combs, change, bobby pins and keys. Kids just don’t check their pockets,“ Booth explained.
Many students want all new machines put into place, but SGA Wimmer Hall Representative Stanley Tatarek defends the decision to keep the old machines.
“They do not need to be completely replaced, because they still get the job done. We need to remember that these washers and dryer are sometimes on all day, and just like any other piece of machinery, the more use it gets, the faster it gets worn out, and the sooner it needs to be repaired,” Tatarek explained. He also addressed the issue of too few machines, stating that “whenever you have 170 plus people sharing four to six or so dryers in whatever building, there are always going to be complaints about broken machines or about not having enough machines.”
Tatarek believes the majority of the problems dealt with the Wimmer laundry room come from a lack of common courtesy towards fellow students. Many students complain of moved or misplaced laundry.
“It is important for residents to remove their clothes once they are finished,” he said. “If residents are concerned about people moving their clothes, perhaps it would be in their best interest to take homework to the laundry room or computer lab and sit down there while their clothes are in the wash.”
Sometimes residents’ laundry is left for days, and builds up in piles, creating limited space to move others’ laundry and fold clothes. “In regards to built up laundry,” Tatarek said, “SGA does not currently have any solutions.” In previous years, Residence Life has collected the left laundry at the end of each semester and donated it to charity.
Former SGA Residence Life Committee Chair, Laura Wohar, explained that one of the goals of her committee last year was to improve the laundry rooms in all of the dorms and also to encourage better etiquette from residents regarding others’ laundry. Wohar stated that the Residence Hall Representatives were instructed to alert FMO of any broken or damaged machines. A survey conducted by SGA confirmed that students had complaints and problems regarding the time and quality of finishing laundry.
“In response to what we learned in the survey, I spoke with Bob Baum about getting new laundry equipment for Wimmer Hall, which seemed to have the most problems,” Wohar said. She was informed that new machines were being worked into the budget for the 2010-2011 school year.
SGA Executive Board President, Stephanie Fitzgerald, verified the findings from the SGA survey. Fitzgerald explained that while SGA and Residence Life wished to address all of the laundry room complaints, they could only address the Wimmer laundry room, due to the lack of space and electrical capacity in the other residence halls on campus. Larry Hendrick, Assistant Director of FMO, told Residence Life and SGA that Wimmer only has the capacity for one more washer and one more dryer. Booth also elaborated, stating that the Wimmer laundry room does not have the capacity for more than one washer and dryer since the room also serves as an entrance to significant pipes that need to be accessed frequently. “Short of building a new room for the washers and dryers, there isn’t really much that can be done regarding more space,” she said.
Residence Life pays for all of the washers and dryers on campus. Fitzgerald explained that the plan was to have the new washer and dryer set up for the 2010-2011 school year, but due to Residence Life budget issues, the plan could not be executed.
“The budget was due in March, and the discussion of a new washer and dryer didn’t start until April. Residence Life didn’t have room in the budget for a new washer and dryer this year, but as far as I know, they are planning on getting a new washer and dryer for the 2011-2012 school year,” Fitzgerald said.
Director of Residence Life, Bob Baum, said about the Wimmer laundry situation: “Enhancing the laundry situation in Wimmer is definitely on the list of projects that we’d like to get funded—we know this is important to the residents who live there and the SGA survey confirmed that. We are seeking funds to move forward, perhaps as early as next semester.”