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Students face problems with laundry facilities

November 30, 2006

As students begin preparing for finals, the last thing they want to think about is dirty laundry. However, campus-wide cleaning up has become a problem for students in residence halls.

Students in Johnson Hall were down to one washing machine for a couple weeks, said resident Kirsten Farrar. The residents were forced to use center points — purchased online or in the Student Center and put onto students’ ID cards to purchase food and services such as laundry – to do their laundry or go to another hall to use laundry facilities.

“This should not have to happen,” Farrar said. “This should only happen if all the washers are in use and someone has to get [their laundry] done that second.”

The problem is not limited to Johnson Hall. 

Kelsey Anderson, a resident of Grimm Hall, said she noticed problems with Grimm’s machines occasionally also, and said there is always at least one machine broken.

Johnson Hall resident Eric Douglas agreed with Fararr and Anderson, and said one machine is often broken, and the dryer eats a great amount of money before it works.  Douglas said this has been happening for a couple weeks. The machines will work for a week and then have problems again, he said.

Director of Student Life Facilities Mike Stifter said the problem is based on poor communication.

“Most of the outages were caused by the change boxes being filled, which then puts the machine out of order,” Stifter said.

Without communication as to existing problems, Residence Life cannot contact the vendor to have the problems fixed.

“We have found that we need to continue to direct users experiencing problems to hall staff who then will contact Residence Life to put a work order in to the company,” Stifter said.

Farrar said she believes the problem is not one with UWRF, but with the company from which the University rents the machines.

“When asked to fix them [the vendor] told Residence Services that it would be a while,” Johnson Hall Resident Assistant Travis Klinkner said. “When they finally did come they didn’t repair all the machines immediately.”

The contract the University has with the vendor is in its third year, and Stifter said there are a couple more years left to go. Stifter maintained that the company was not at fault, and better communication is at the heart of solving the problem.

“When the communication loop is working, we’ve found [the vendor] to be very responsive,” Stifter said. “As you might expect, though, they can’t service something they don’t know needs fixing.”

Stifter said coin usage and card usage are both up this year, and the machines are being used more overall. 

“Hard to say what caused the [communication] problem this time around, other than there is always an element of adjustment each fall to a variety of things as a new staff and new set of residents start out in a year,” Stifter said. “It looks like we’re in good shape at this point, ready to take on the next issue that comes our way.”

To add insult to injury, both Anderson and Douglas commented on the poor use of the laundry rooms, saying students often leave their laundry in the machines. This often means that when the facilities are in working order, they are unavailable. 

“People will leave stuff in the machines or put stuff in with mine,” Douglas said. “Then I’m like, ‘What? I don’t wear thongs.’”