RHA turns eye to fixing laundry issues

RHA plans to have a day where ResLife administrators, hall coordinators and other staff members do laundry in the residence halls so they can see the results for themselves.
Photo of the laundry room on Friday, April 10, 2015, located in Mark Twain Residence Hall in Columbia, Mo.

The Residence Halls Association recently conducted a survey of all hall residents about the current state of laundry facilities. Of the 174 residents who responded, 51 percent were dissatisfied with residence hall laundry, 31 percent were somewhat dissatisfied, 17 percent were neutral and one percent were satisfied.

Freshman Marin Meiners, a resident of Hudson Hall, said the hall’s laundry facilities, which are provided by Jetz, need to be reformed due to the many issues students face.

“You have to pay a lot for it, many of them are broken, don’t wash well or take forever to dry,” Meiners said. “It’s a hassle to set aside two hours to do my laundry.”

Freshman Katie Travelstead said the dryers cause the biggest problems in Excellence Hall.

“My clothes are never dry,” Travelstead said. “I would be saving more money and time by not having to dry twice every time I do laundry.”

In an April 6 Facebook post, current RHA President Steven Chaffin announced RHA’s efforts and views about the laundry problem.

Survey results said most students blamed the dryers, but problems with machines being out of order,not having enough machines and problems specifically with using the washers were all noted. Included in the survey was also a question about the online laundry ZOUtorial, which 85 percent of respondents said they watched prior to or while taking the survey.

“We knew that if we didn’t include (ZOUtorial) in the survey that would be a really easy way for the department to say, ‘We have these resources available and people aren’t using them,’” Chaffin said. “I think that is an encouraging outcome, because that says the majority of students have watched this video and they are still having these issues.”

The survey passed all of the requirements, and Chaffin said they can “trust these results.”

“We wanted to make sure we weren’t conducting a survey that was just going to give us results we wanted to hear,” Chaffin said. “We wanted to make sure that if there really isn’t an issue then that’s what the survey says, but it does say that overwhelmingly students are against it.”

Students started having problems with the residence hall laundry facilities a few years ago. Part of this could have been caused by removing top-loading washers and replacing them with front-loading ones.

A survey was taken about a year ago, Chaffin said, but after an in-committee discussion about students having issues with the washers and dryers, it stopped there.

“That survey was about, ‘Do we have problems?’” Chaffin said. “This is about ‘We know we have problems,’ and let’s bring these concerns to Residential Life after we’ve done our research, reached out to other universities and have a solid argument.”

In addition to the survey, RHA plans to have a day where ResLife administrators, hall coordinators and other staff members do laundry in the residence halls so they can see the results for themselves.

“We think that this a fun, educational way to connect the students and staff views on this issue,” Chaffin said. “It’s easy to say, ‘The students just don’t know how to do laundry,’ and the staff don’t really understand what the issue is.”

Chaffin said in the Facebook post that students are overwhelmingly in favor of a change.

“For the short time I have left in office, I am committed to working with our Residential Living Committee so that we can make meaningful but realistic recommendations to the Department of Residential Life,” he said in the post.

Later in an interview, Chaffin added that the problems students face with laundry facilities require a professional and knowledgeable tactic.

“RHA is advocating for students on one of the most simple yet frustrating problems that residents are facing and have faced in the past few years,” Chaffin said. “We are trying to go at it the most informed, professional way as possible, because I think that is what has been lacking in previous years.”

Chaffin said he suggested reducing the amount students are charged per cycle, or adding it as a student fee, instead of getting entirely new machines.

“I think the most prominent solution, from my point of view, would be the way we charge for it,” Chaffin said. “That’s something I think can be changed over the summer. We’ll have a new term and that’ll be a lot easier than breaking a contract with Jetz next year.”

Chaffin said he plans on working and sharing opinions with the Residential Living Committee to draft a resolution containing specifically what they want the department to do.

“Once we have that resolution together, I am going to go to MSA president (Payton Head) and the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs (Cathy Scroggs) and see if we can get those signatures on there,” Chaffin said.

He said he hopes to obtain a variety of signatures to back up the resolution, because he believes the vast majority of the community wants to see change.

“I am very hopeful that in the next (few) days we can have that all ready to go,” Chaffin said. “I would like on the last day of my term, at the very latest, to be able to have a resolution passed, signed … and taken to Residential Life to make some beneficial changes.”

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