Hundreds of Barnard students in the Quad, 600s, and Plimpton have been left with just a handful of working washing machines and dryers in their residence halls due to ongoing technical problems with the college’s new laundry provider.
Barnard changed its laundry service provider in June, upgrading machines across all dorms so that they no longer use specialized reloadable cards but can be paid for using credit cards, debit cards, or Apple Pay. The attempt to make the service more user-friendly has been riddled with issues, however, as many of these machines are “offline,” impeding students’ ability to pay for and therefore use them.
Over the past several weeks, students have been forced to wait in lines to use the handful of working machines in the majority of Barnard dorms. As of Tuesday afternoon, there was only one working washing machine in Plimpton, which houses 336 Barnard and Columbia students.
“I’ve been trying to do laundry as spaced out as possible [for financial reasons],” said Plimpton resident Cleo Payne, BC ’21. “I had [a] job interview the next day and had run out of clothes to wear, but only one laundry machine was working, and there was a long line for it, … so I camped out in the laundry room for two hours to do laundry.”
According to a statement by Executive Director of Residential Life and Housing Alicia Lawrence, the Residential Life & Housing office is aware of the problems with the laundry machines and is working with the vendor to resolve the situation.
Lucy Cooper, BC ’21, said she had to speak to Barnard Facilities workers, Residential Life and Housing, and Barnard College Information Technology about the machines in Plimpton Hall before anyone was able to diagnose the problem: An ethernet cord had become disconnected, which prevented the machines from accepting payment. BCIT was able to successfully put two of the six machines back online, but, soon after, one of the machines suffered a mechanical issue, rendering it unusable again.
Cooper argued that the college must be held accountable for the provision of basic services like laundry.
“There should be some way in which Barnard should be held responsible for the machines in buildings,” Cooper said. “They have a duty to provide the services for which we are paying.”