News

Plans Announced to Transition to Self-Service Laundry

by Davidson College
Lula Bell Laundry
Lula Bell Houston Laundry Facility

Davidson College announced today that it will discontinue free full-service laundry for all students, beginning May 15, 2015. Students will continue to have access to free self-service laundry facilities across campus.

The decision comes at a time when Davidson is aligning its resources to meet educational priorities within the changing landscape of higher education. As a result, the college is reprioritizing the services and amenities it offers to students.

"This transition reflects our vision for Davidson now and into the future," said Davidson College President Carol Quillen. "We are committed to sustaining what is intrinsic and distinctive to Davidson, while offering new services and programs that prepare and enable Davidson graduates to thrive in a global society."

In the past year, the college has celebrated the opening of "Studio M," a new makerspace that fosters technological creativity and exploration, and introduced new academic offerings. In the next year, the college plans to expand career development offerings to meet growing student interest in career counseling and internship placement as a well as move to a 24/7 library for students.

While the majority of first-year students utilize full laundry service, that rate drops over a student's time at Davidson. Only about 35 percent of seniors use the free full-service laundry, opting instead to use the free self-service facilities.

The full service laundry facility opened in 1920 and has operated as a free full-service laundry for more than 90 years.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is being announced today?
Davidson College will discontinue free full-service laundry for all students, beginning May 15, 2015. Students will continue to have access to free self-service laundry facilities across campus.

What is free full-service laundry?
Students may drop off laundry and pick it up clean, folded, and wrapped, or in the case of dress shirts, pressed and placed on hangers. This service is provided for all students at no additional charge. Large items like blankets, quilts, and sleeping bags, as well as dry cleaning, can also be laundered for an additional charge.

What is free self-service laundry?
Across campus, there are laundry rooms where students may wash and dry their own clothes. These machines are available without charge to students.

What is the timeline for this transition?

Laundry
Davidson has offered free full-service laundry since 1920.

The option for free full-service laundry will continue through the 2014-15 academic year. On May 15, 2015, free self-service laundry will be the only option for students.

What will happen to the laundry staff?
The college values the service of our 14 laundry employees, and over the next 12 months we are committed to helping them transition to new employment on and off campus.

Which classes will be affected by this transition?
All students (Class of 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018) will have access to free full-service laundry during the 2014-2015 school year. Beginning on May 15, 2015, free self-service laundry will be available to students in the Classes of 2016 - 2019.

How long has there been the option for free full-service laundry at Davidson?
The full service laundry facility opened in 1920, and has operated as a free full-service laundry for over 90 years.

Do a majority of the students opt for free full-service laundry?
Historically, we have found that a majority of the first-year students opt for full-service. However, that rate drops over a student's time at Davidson, and typically only about 35% of seniors use the free full-service laundry.

Why transition now?
This transition comes at a time when we are aligning our resources to meet our educational priorities, in light of the changing landscape of higher education. As a result, this new chapter requires us to rethink and reprioritize the services and amenities we offer to our students.

For example, we introduced new interdisciplinary departments and recently celebrated the grand opening of "Studio M," a new makerspace to foster technological creativity and exploration. We are enhancing some of our most popular programs like entrepreneurship and sustainability. We are expanding our career development offerings to meet the growing interest of students for career counseling, internship placement, and job opportunities. We are planning to move to a 24/7 library for our students.

We have a long history of careful stewardship of our resources, which allows us to deliver an exceptional education to our students and do more with less, including an endowment that is only one-third the size of some of our peers.

After transitional costs, the move to free self-service laundry will save the college approximately $400,000 a year.

Lula Bell Houston
Lula Bell Houston

Who is the laundry facility's namesake?
Lula Bell Houston worked at the laundry for 57 years and retired in 2004. At that time, the building was officially named the "Lula Bell Houston Laundry" in her honor. It is one of only two buildings on campus named in honor of a staff person.

What will happen to the building?
The name of the building will remain, and we are planning to work with the student body to explore what to do with the over 6,800 sq. ft. space moving forward. We want our students to take the lead in helping us to imagine what is possible.

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