Leeds University Union are having a referendum to decide whether or not they should pressure student accommodation providers to include laundry credits worth 20 washes and 20 dries in the prices of their rent. There are a number of reasons why they should include this credit scheme in the rent, besides the fact that being able to wash your clothes is, fundamentally, a human right.
Firstly, the cost of washes is extortionate. The price of a single wash and dry comes to £4.60 which is ridiculous considering the price of student accommodation in Leeds ranges from £85 to £197 per week. This alone should be enough for the union to lobby student accommodations to subsidise the prices considering it would be cheaper to buy a ticket to fruity every single week than do your weekly wash.
Also, university is more often than not a student’s first time away from home. Lots of people have never had to do washing and so, by charging ridiculous amounts, it will put them off doing it. When I lived in halls last year, I had friends actually buying new underwear and socks because it was cheaper to go to Primark and get new stuff than to do a wash every week. On top of that, I would often find my flat-mate hand-washing her clothes in the shower because she couldn’t afford to do a wash that week but didn’t have anything clean to wear to lectures. It’s completely irresponsible to say that this is okay. University is expensive enough and simple facilities should be at least subsidised by accommodation which already makes so much money by providing the bare minimum.
Not only that, but the facilities are sub-par. A nice fresh wash will often contain huge clumps of hair that are most definitely not yours, combined with lumps of dust that have somehow managed to get into the machine. It’s outrageous that such poor facilities cost us so much on top of the already hefty fees that we pay for rent; it often feels like legalised theft.
There is always the option of taking your washing home for your parents to do for you, but this is not a legitimate option for some. International students can’t hop on a plane back to Canada to get their Mum to wash their sheets, so they are forced to use the accommodation’s facilities. This is the student accommodation providers taking complete advantage of students and their reliance on them.
I think it is imperative that LUU should pressure student accommodations to offer laundry credits as it is unreasonable to charge excessive prices for both necessary and usually poor facilities. You can’t do your entire first year without doing a wash and no one should have to consider that option. It may sound like a small amount of money in the grand scheme of things but it is the principle. Student accommodation is generally overpriced, and that coupled with the shock of living away from home for the first time, and having to actually fund everything, makes the concept of being charged almost £5 a week just to be able to wash your clothes completely ridiculous and unfair. The University’s Residential Services have successfully included credit equal to the value of 20 washes and dries in the rent prices of their accommodations, so it is about time that other accommodation providers do the same.