Any college student knows that $20 can go a long way. It can buy a comfort meal after a long day, gas for your car, or that book your professor recommended. At UC Santa Cruz, it is what you need to have clean laundry for a month. 

UCSC lags behind schools like UC Berkeley and Cal Poly SLO, which provide laundry services to their students free of charge. 

Madeline Bautista Maurer, a second-year living at the Oakes apartments, is all too familiar with the frustration that comes with being charged to wash her clothes. On top of this, she recently discovered that students living at the new Kresge apartments do not have to pay to do laundry.

“They don’t have to pay at all for laundry, which I feel like should be the norm. But […] we have to pay and suffer,” Bautista Maurer said. 

According to Edwin Dunn, the Director of Facilities of Colleges, Housing and Educational Services (CHES), this is a temporary measure that only occurs when machines on the university campus experience technical problems. However, it raises an essential question — why must students encounter extreme circumstances in order to do their laundry for free?

All residential facilities on campus are equipped with washers and dryers from a third-party supplier that the university has worked with since 2016. CSC GO, the laundry vendor, profits from every laundry-related transaction that occurs on campus. But they are not the only profiteers.

In order to keep their machines on campus, CSC GO pays UCSC a portion of the earnings they collect from students each month. 

After several attempts at contacting UCSC’s Business Office, Dunn did not receive information regarding the exact percentage of profit that CSC GO pays the university.

During winter break, the majority of UCSC’s laundry machines transitioned from using CSC GO credit card readers to a new software developed by the company: a smartphone application that requires students to create an account, deposit money into it, and pay for their laundry digitally. If they cannot download the application, each CSC GO machine also has a QR code that allows students to pay with Apple Pay. 

“It’s really a matter of convenience for the residents,” Dunn said. “The beauty of CSC GO is [that] it allows residents to be able to look and see which rooms have machines available, and how many […] are not currently in use. It will also allow them to monitor status, meaning that [CSC GO] will send them alerts to let them know when cycles are completed.”  

Although the new system did not change the price of laundry, it comes with a caveat: students paying with QR codes are charged an additional processing fee of 25 cents. 

Currently it costs $1.00 to wash one load and $0.75 to dry one, not counting the additional fee. 

[photo of anjali]

For Anjali Malyala, a third-year student living in the Oakes apartments, the new software’s processing fee is the cherry on top of an already irritating process. 

“I find it very annoying that we have to pay so much money for our laundry, and now they’ve added a 25-cent processing fee if you don’t use the app, which is not ideal,” said Malyala. 

To inform students of the switch from credit card readers to CSC’s new app, CHES sent emails out over winter break. Flyers were also posted in each laundry room in the weeks leading up to the transition. 

Despite this, Malyala recalls being caught off guard by the change. Bautista Maurer also felt she was left in the dark.

“We’re doing things like we normally do, we show up to the laundry room, and then we realize that there’s another step we weren’t prepared for,” Bautista Maurer said. “It’s a hassle.” 

Because smartphone accessibility is not absolute for students, the university plans to leave one washer and one dryer per laundry room that will still accept credit card payments. However, Dunn stated that research was not conducted regarding the number of students on campus who do not have smartphones before CSC GO’s new software was implemented onto UCSC’s machines. 

“We weren’t asked for what we would prefer, or if we wanted this,” Bautista Maurer said. She wishes the university consulted students about their needs before making the final call to replace credit card readers with CSC GO’s software.

Both Malyala and Bautista Maurer are still pushing for a uniform model in which students across campus can do their laundry for free. Bautista Maurer is especially skeptical of how necessary the laundry profits are.

“UC doesn’t need our nickels and dimes.”