The spin (cycle) on college laundry

Three weeks from today we’ll be driving to Southern California to deposit our youngest daughter, Jennifer, in her freshman dorm at Pepperdine. There are some aspects of her transition to living away from home that I sometimes get anxious about. Thoughts such as: Will she get along with her roommates? Will she focus on her classwork? Will she know how to set boundaries in relationships? Will she floss her teeth?

One thing that doesn’t concern me, is whether Jennifer will be able to handle doing her laundry. To put it in the catchphrase du jour, loading a washing machine is in her wheelhouse.

So that’s why I was surprised to get a letter last week from the university’s Office of Housing and Community Living offering laundry service; this program is “committed to helping students experience an easy transition between home and campus life.” Apparently there are students who can get a perfect score on their SAT but for whom sorting lights and darks could present a challenge.

I suppose the laundry service is for students whose moms picked up their laundry from their rooms and delivered it back all nicely folded. For these kids, laundry service makes it an easy transition from being spoiled at home to being spoiled at college. Now instead of mom, it’s a van that picks up their wash. But shouldn’t living away from home be about learning to take some responsibility for yourself?

In the piece of direct mail, they present the biggest benefit of the laundry service as efficiency because it “preserves the most valuable and scarce resource in the life of any college student…TIME!” I beg to differ; college students have loads of time – it’s just that they often don’t make very good use of it. Life is pretty darn good when you’re in college because all you have to do is show up for class and study occasionally; you don’t have the responsibility of a family, earning a living, finances, chores, etc.

Yet for these privileged students, their time is so valuable, that mom and dad can kick in another $800 a year so that they don’t have to concern themselves with such mundane tasks as doing their own laundry.

Okay…the school’s offer of laundry service is just evidence of what I already knew – which is that my daughter is attending a college that has a lot of over privileged students.

As I continued reading all the inserts stuffed in the envelope, I encountered something that is just downright odd. The mailing included a piece recruiting students to work at the laundry, describing it as a great student job with flexible hours and (no big surprise here) free laundry service.

I am all for students working during college; all Jennifer’s siblings all had jobs and she will too. But here’s the thing: the mailing describes the laundry service’s “10-Step Care Process” which includes emptying the pockets in pants and jackets, inspecting for stains, and meticulously folding all garments.

So students working in the laundry will be inspecting their classmates boxers for stains, folding thongs and pulling who knows what out of jean pockets. Eewww!

I’m going to suggest Jennifer transfer her barista skills to a Starbucks near campus.

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