Section: Opinion

Kenyon should wash away unequitable laundry fees for good

The ritual of doing laundry has evolved into a task fraught with uncertainty and frustration. Each time I approach the laundry room, it feels less like a mundane chore and more like a gamble, where the odds of encountering a functional machine are seemingly at the mercy of chance. The current system, which charges $2.25 for washing and another $1.50 for drying, not only imposes a financial burden but also detracts from the sense of community and equity that Kenyon strives to uphold.

My frustration with Kenyon College’s laundry system extends beyond the financial cost to its sheer unpredictability. Each visit to the Old Kenyon laundry room feels like a roll of the dice. The disillusionment of paying $3.75, only to find my clothes still damp, not only wastes money but also erodes trust in the services provided to us as students. This problem goes beyond a simple inconvenience; it raises significant concerns about the fairness and reliability of essential student services. Adding to the frustration is the challenge of seeking refunds for these inadequate services. CBORD, the company responsible for our laundry operations, has established a refund process that is anything but user-friendly. Navigating their system often feels like navigating a maze, with students frequently ending up without the refunds they deserve. This cumbersome process exacerbates the feeling of helplessness among students, transforming laundry — a basic, necessary task—into a source of continuous aggravation.

The notion of “free” laundry, as adopted by similar peer institutions such as Denison University and Oberlin College, acknowledges the collective absorption of costs by the student body, making laundry access equitable and inclusive. This model not only alleviates individual financial burdens but also aligns with the values of accessibility and community support that are fundamental to the liberal arts college experience. The comparison with these institutions, which are similar in size and ethos to Kenyon, underscores the feasibility and desirability of such a transition on our own campus.

Implementing a free laundry system at Kenyon could lead to more responsible use of the machines. This approach would mitigate the tendency to overload machines — a practice that currently stems from the desire to maximize the value of each paid laundry cycle. By removing the financial penalty per wash, students are likely to adopt a more mindful approach to laundry, similar to how they engage with other free resources on campus.  

Concerns about potential abuse of free laundry services, such as fears of machines being overused or misused, are understandable yet may be overstated. Drawing a parallel to Kenyon’s existing policy of free printing, it’s clear that access to a free service does not necessarily lead to irresponsible behavior. Just as students do not exploit free printing to produce unnecessary volumes of material, it is unlikely that they would use laundry services frivolously. The concept of washing a single sock per load, for example, ignores the practical considerations and time costs involved in doing laundry. The reality is that students are capable of using shared resources judiciously when given the trust and freedom to do so. 

Clean clothes are a basic necessity, yet Kenyon does not see them as such. Recognizing clean clothing as a fundamental need, it is imperative for Kenyon to reevaluate its laundry services and align them with the college’s values of equity and accessibility. By transitioning to free laundry, Kenyon can eliminate this barrier and join its peer institutions in ensuring all students have the means to meet this essential aspect of daily life without financial burden.

Dylan Sibbitt ’26 is a political science major from San Francisco. He can be reached at sibbitt1@kenyon.edu

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