Laundry change angers Intersection residents
Students living in Margaret Morrison, Roselawn, and Woodlawn Apartments — the housing area known as the Intersection — are upset over an upheaval in their laundry service.
Intersection residents, who have until now done their laundry in the facilities on the first floor of the Margaret Morrison Plaza, were moved to a room in the basement of Hamerschlag House on Aug. 31 to make way for a new dining location. Hamerschlag residents’ laundry facilities have been moved to a former storage room in the main Hamerschlag building. Intersection residents’ key cards have been adjusted to allow them access to the Hamerschlag basement.
According to Director of Housing and Dining Services Director Kim Abel, the new dining location is one component of a larger plan to renovate and update Carnegie Mellon dining, which also includes a patio addition to Resnik and a new façade for Margaret Morrison. Abel said that Housing and Dining Services hopes to create a more communal space in Margaret Morrison, and that the laundry room made the most sense to remove.
“The laundry was a service that we believed that we could relocate and continue to provide similar, proximal service,” Abel said. She believes that the new laundry accommodations are very similar to the old ones.
But many residents see the move as a sudden, unrequested, and unpleasant change. Among their concerns, they note that the Hamerschlag facility is farther away; that it contains fewer washing machines and dryers, not all of which currently work; that it is poorly lit and not well temperature-controlled; and that Hamerschlag residents can access it through an emergency exit, which could be a safety concern. Above all, residents feel they were not properly consulted or warned about the change.
On Aug. 31, residents received an email from Housing and Dining Facilities Director Louis McCauley that informed them that their laundry room was closed, and that they were now to do their laundry in a room in the basement of Hamerschlag. For some, such as junior creative writing and professional writing double major Rachel Bullen of Roselawn, it was the first official confirmation they had heard about the change. Other residents heard about the change at R.A. meetings during the first week of school.
After Bullen and her housemate, junior directing major Andrea Beschel, circulated a petition to stop the move, McCauley attended a previously scheduled Margaret Morrison safety meeting to hear questions and concerns.
Bullen and Beschel said they believe the meeting was in response to a large number of individual emails to McCauley and Abel from Intersection residents protesting the change.
According to Bullen, McCauley said during the meeting that the maker of the laundry machines, Caldwell & Gregory, had “done the math,” and determined that one washing machine and dryer are necessary for every 38 people.
“The meeting at Margaret Morrison was pretty much, ‘We’re sorry we didn’t tell you, but this makes sense,’ ” Bullen said.
McCauley arranged for a meeting of himself, Abel, and a group of representatives from the Intersection this week to discuss options. Abel said that Housing and Dining is not committed to a plan, or to stopping the move, at this time.
“There are lots of options that we can look at,” Abel said. “I want to make sure that I hear the students’ feedback.”
Abel stressed that Housing and Dining is receptive to, and in fact actively seeks, student input.
“We have always utilized student input in almost everything we do in Housing and Dining,” Abel said. “Some of it’s informal. Some of it’s through advisory groups. Some of it’s through our partnership with Student Senate.”
Abel mentioned that the Student Dormitory Council (SDC) and the Dining Advisory Committee are the two major student advisory groups that Housing and Dining consults.
But Beschel, who was also a resident of Roselawn last year, said that she doesn’t feel that the affected students were even warned of the changes, let alone consulted.
“A dining service is something that the community that’s being affected doesn’t need,” Beschel said. “We’re not freshmen, we’re mostly not on a meal plan, we have our own kitchens.” Beschel and Bullen both said that, although some people do support the new dining location, most Intersection residents they’ve spoken to are opposed to the change. Their petition currently has 84 signatures out of about 140 Intersection residents.
According to Beschel and Bullen, an email was sent out to students last year advertising an open forum to discuss housing and dining changes, but the email only specifically mentioned the Resnik patio, not the possibility of a change in Intersection facilities.
Abel said that although Housing and Dining has been discussing the new dining location since last winter, it was unlikely that students were told about the upcoming change during room selection. “I don’t know, because the service is remaining the same, that that is something we would communicate,” she said.
“I’m really annoyed they didn’t talk to us,” Bullen said. “I just want to know where we go from here. I don’t think we should stick to the original plan.”
Beschel said that she feels that the lack of communication is unacceptable.
“We really do want to have a neighborhood here where our opinions are respected,” Beschel said. “We’re not here and gone, we’re here for four years, and we pay for that, and we deserve to be heard.”
Despite the protests, Abel said that she is excited about the new plan for Housing and Dining. “We’re doing some really neat things with the renovations and the plans. I’m hoping that we can move beyond this issue in a constructive way and get to the constructive part.”
The petition to stop the move can be found at https://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-laundry-move. The primary contact of the SDC, which represents students’ housing concerns on campus, is the SDC president, junior information systems major Nathan Hahn. The SDC meets every Wednesday at 8 p.m. in Breed Hall. Meetings are open to Carnegie Mellon residents.