New laundry facility tumbles into Webb dormitories


Enya Chi ('20)

Jones residents Sara Hagiwara ('20) and Sydney Wuu ('20) do their laundry with the new laundry facility.

Imagine this: Last semester, you, a fellow boarder at Webb, came to school unprepared and understocked with quarters for laundry. Frustrated, you had to go through all sorts of hassle, such as desperately running around the dorm looking to borrow quarters, or even trying to fool the vending machine for change just to be able to do your weekly laundry. Coming back to Webb this fall, you expected the worst to repeat, only to find your dilemma resolved! 

During the summer of 2019, the laundry facility in all Webb dorms underwent an upgrade from a traditional coin-operated laundry system to a new system powered by electronic transactions. The new laundry facility, operated by ACE Commercial Laundry Equipment, offers students a new, high-tech way of doing laundry that is both time-efficient and goes hand in hand with the globalized digital transformation of modern society. 

The new laundry system includes many cool features that set it apart from its predecessor. The most impressive change in the new laundry facility is the all-electronic payment system. Now, instead of paying for laundry with quarters, the system operates completely electronically through an app called Greenwald Pay that is available for free on both Google Play Store and the App Store.

Since the system is completely digitized, students now have to pay through credit cards in the following ways: (1) hooking their credit card to the app to pay directly from it, (2) laundry cards that can be purchased and recharged at the smart card vending machine in the library.

Through the app system, students can see from their rooms the availability of the laundry machines and how much time is remaining for each laundry cycle. In addition, the new washers and dryers include more cycle and temperature options that provide more choices for people’s laundry habits.

The debate about installing better laundry facilities at Webb has been in discussion for several years among the administration team.

Janet Peddy, the Director of Finance, Planning, and Operations, said, “There were many concerns in the past with the machines not working well, and that finding coins all the time was burdensome.”

The Webb administration team decided against a coin-operated laundry system since, as Ms. Peddy said, “We’re moving into a more cashless society and most people have cell phones now” therefore electronic payment is the best alternative to the traditional laundry system.

The key person who made this change possible is Kevin Doyle, Director of Facilities. Mr. Doyle was the overseer of the project, and it was he who planned out the entire renovation, communicated with the venders, and made sure that everything would be in place for students to use by the time school started in fall. 

Mr. Doyle, who has worked at Webb for almost three years, said, “The student laundry has always been a big concern for student life since the quality of the machines and the coin service is not good. Mr. Stockdale has mentioned to me that, ‘we got to fix the student laundry somehow,’ and at the end of last year, it has reached a point that the poor laundry facility was affecting the quality of student life, that the senior administration decided to do something about it. So, I told my boss, Janet Peddy, and Dr. Smith, that I would start working on a plan to get it renovated over the summer, and one of the goals is for it to be cashless, because the coins were a problem for everybody and students are also really good with cashless apps.” 

During the installation, the plan went smoothly and without much trouble. Mr. Doyle said, “The vendor was very cooperative with Webb’s needs and so they were really fast at getting the old equipment out and the new ones in, because we gave them a short notice and the equipment only had a three week lead time to ship in.” 

The system generally received mixed to positive responses by students and faculties. From a student survey sent to STAS with 33 respondents, 57.6% respondents preferred the new laundry system over the old one, while 63.6% of respondents rated the efficiency of the new machine a score of 3 or above on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the least efficient and 5 being the most efficient. Similarly, 69.7% of respondents gave the new system an overall score of 3 or above, on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being “I hate it,” and 5 being “I love it.” 

Michael Szanyi, Head of VWS dorm prefects, praised the Gpay app and the new system, as students do not have to worry now about quarters anymore. He said, “That’s always a source of frustration for students who do not have quarters to do laundry, or worry about them [quarters] getting jammed in the machines …and helps students plan accordingly and be able to know when their laundry is finished so it will not be stuck there when finished.” 

Leo Liu (’20) said, “The new laundry system is great. Before, it was always troublesome to find quarters, but now I get to pay for laundry directly from my phone, which is much more convenient. In addition, I can easily recharge my balance directly through the app, which is both time saving and efficient.”

Jenny Han (’21) agrees with Leo, as “it’s especially more convenient for those like me who always have to scramble around to look for more quarters.” 

However, some people do not enjoy the new system laundry as much. A common concern for students is the increase in price for both washing and drying, as students anonymously wrote in the aforementioned survey that “laundry should be free :)” or “too expensive :(“.

In addition, residents of Appleby dorm, such as Isabella Shi (’21) in particular, are having trouble with the new system because their laundry is located in the dorm’s basement. Isabella said that “It usually takes me 15 to 20 minutes to pay for my laundry because the machine just won’t connect to my phone.” 

Lastly, some international students are especially frustrated with the new laundry facility. Jenny said, “If there’s one thing that I hope the laundry system can improve on, it’s accepting international credit cards.”

One way to solve this problem, as one WSC 2020 student anonymously wrote on the survey, is to “Somehow charge it to our student accounts without doing anything on the machines.”.

If students have any concerns with the equipment that are not working correctly, they can email Mr. Doyle, who can help them solve the issue.

Regardless of the controversy regarding the new laundry system, it is a great addition to the boarding community at Webb. Not only is it more convenient for students, but it also helps Webb transition to a more digitally-driven campus to fit in with the high tech societies of the 21st century.