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Dorms Consider College Laundry Service

By Kirtana Raja

Saturday night finally rolls around and you’re planning to attend a rocking party. What better way to impress that cutie from class than wearing that hot matching outfit from your closet with those fabulous strappy high heels, right? Alas, you realize that your outfit is currently sitting in a pile of dirty laundry in the corner of your room! If only doing laundry weren’t such a pain, maybe you’d actually have something to wear.

MIT dormitories are in the process of considering a proposal by a company called College Bellhop that would offer laundry services to students on a dorm-by-dorm basis next school year. However, these services come at a hefty price and with some concerns for dormitory security.

Dormitory Council President Harvey C. Jones ’06 said a College Bellhop representative contacted DormCon about one month ago and asked if MIT would be interested in having its service for next year. The company made a presentation at a DormCon meeting in early April, and offered DormCon five percent of the total revenue. Following the presentation, Jones announced that the dormitory presidents could talk to their fellow housemates, and each dormitory would determine for itself whether or not the residents would be willing to pay for the services next year.

The dormitories will not have an overhead cost for the service, so only those who choose the service will pay.

Jones said that so far, five of the dormitories have decided — East Campus, MacGregor, and Senior Haus will accept the service, and Baker and Random are declining. Jones said that the other dormitories have not yet notified him of their decisions.

The service would work as follows: a bin would be installed in the lobby of each dormitory, and residents would place their laundry in bags into the bin. College Bellhop would pick it up and return it washed, ironed, and folded. Dry cleaning service could also be arranged in a similar manner.

College Bellhop charges $24.99 for one-time use and $299.00 for a semester of weekly services, according to its Web site, For that price, the company will take up to 25 pounds of laundry per week, though a more expensive package is also available.

Dormitory residents who choose to participate will be able to select from a range of differently-priced laundry packages depending on their needs. Also, DormCon is not holding a contract with College Bellhop so the services could be discontinued at any time if students feel it is not useful, said Jones.

“DormCon is merely to help facilitate the interest in the college bellhop service, but we are by no means trying to market it to the students ourselves,” Jones said.

Of the total profit collected from the students, 5 percent would then be given back to DormCon, which would keep a tally of the number of students using the service from each dormitory and appropriately reallocate the money back to each of the respective dormitories.

Random, Baker say no to service

Random Hall President Iolanthe K. Chronis ’07 said that there were two main reasons why Random’s residents were not interested in the service: security and cost. Having an outside service come into the dormitory each week would be a security risk, Chronis said.

Random is also unique in that it is offering its residents free laundry next year, after having obtained new washing machines this semester. Since laundry money will not be a part of the dorm revenue, Random is increasing the house tax per person from $40 to $55.

Baker House President Nikhil S. Nadkarni ’07 also said that Baker residents did not feel that allowing an outside party into their dormitory would be very safe. On top of that, having a bin with dirty laundry sitting in the dormitory lobby and taking up extra space also is not ideal.

While the majority of Baker residents did not want the basic laundry services, a few were interested in the dry cleaning services offered by Campus Bellhop, but the interest was not strong enough to warrant taking the services. Nadkarni said that the consensus was that everyone could take care of his or her own laundry.

East Campus President Estevan M. Martinez ’08 said that EC chose to get the services next year, though the general reaction to the laundry service was apathetic. Martinez said that most people generally felt that the service was unnecessary, but they didn’t mind if some other people wanted to use the service.

“I think most people felt that paying $300 for laundry whereas they would otherwise spend $30 per term would be too expensive, but some felt that it would be just be one less thing to worry about,” Martinez said.

Unlike some of the other dormitories, EC was not so concerned about security, because a floor key is needed in order to actually get access to any of the rooms. Because the laundry bins will be kept in the general lobby, any service people should not be able to get into the rooms.