Updated: Jul 6
The Daily Free Press (FreeP) — Boston University’s premier news outlet for anyone who wants to skip the idealistic college student phase of life and jump right into telling people that “this is just the way things are” — just released an opinion piece that aims to poke some holes in our fight to have laundry costs completely eliminated and covered by the University.
I think you’ll find that they’ve accomplished something incredible here, though inadvertently. The article demonstrates that the status quo, which The Daily Free Press defends in a manner that shows how such a status quo functions as a positive feedback loop, is inherently oppressive and unfair to the majority of students and faculty. Let’s take a look.
“If it does account for a large portion of the University’s budget, then our tuition could be majorly affected. The University may have to increase tuition to cover the costs of free laundry. Not to mention, the BU’s implementation of its new Greenwald Pay system would have been a wasted effort and expense.”
I’m sure that President Brown is flattered that The Daily Free Press has his financial concerns in mind when considering the possibility of eliminating laundry costs for students, but I think the $1.85 billion dollars that Boston University proudly announced that they raised last year is more than enough to pay for laundry.
The mention of the Greenwald Pay system that was recently installed makes an excellent point: BU implemented a new online payment system to replace the already existing online payment system for laundry.
I don’t recall any op-eds warning that this upgrade would raise our tuition fees. The university could have used this money on something more beneficial to students, such as paying for laundry costs outright. Instead, the University chose to invest time and money into a fancy new way to make money off of laundry. It is wasteful, FreeP. A waste of money that could have been used to benefit the students.
“Many students want to protect their low-income peers from the inherent disadvantage they face from the cost of laundry. However, the majority of services on a college campus are not extremely accommodating for low-income students to begin with.”
The editors of the student newspaper at your $60-thousand-a-year private university want you to know that you shouldn’t demand better conditions for our low-income peers because the world sucks for low-income people anyway.
Yes, FreeP. That’s why we want to make the world better for ordinary people. Not everyone has a 2.5 million dollar salary that allows them to rest comfortably. This excerpt, which is essentially saying “things are bad anyway, so we shouldn’t try to make anything better!” is the most monstrously pessimistic statement ever committed to writing by a college student. You’re a student newspaper, you should represent the interests and needs of those low-income students, not tell them to stay in their place because “that’s how the world works.”
“We must also wait to make this demand until we have a better understanding of how our laundry money is being spent. As of now, the student body doesn’t have enough information to claim the University is making a large profit off of laundry.”
We don’t need to wait! Do you pay $60 thousand a year for the amenities and educational opportunities it supposedly allows BU to offer, or do you pay $60 thousand a year to inflate the size of Robert Brown’s wallet? The University shouldn’t be making any profit off of laundry. There are public universities with 1/4 the tuition prices that BU demands, and they don’t charge $1.75 for laundry.
“However, asking the University to completely do away with the cost of laundry is imposing a difficult demand. In addition to an extensive COVID-19 testing system on campus, the University is dealing with furlows [sic] and salary freezes as a result of the pandemic.”
The FreeP’s first critique of our movement is a claim that paying for laundry would put a financial burden on the University, which would be felt by faculty members who are already experiencing furloughs and salary freezes. But perhaps rather than give into the status quo, we can take a look at why these are the solutions to financial hardships that Boston University has chosen in the first place.
In 2017, President Robert Brown received a salary of $2.5 million. This is more money than your hardest working professor makes in 10 years.
So the question is: who deserves what amount of money for their work?
The money-minded culture in the United States might lead you to believe that the higher you are on the corporate ladder, the higher your salary should be. However, if we take a look at those who actually generate the money coming into the university, then a different picture is painted.
Students come to prestigious universities such as Boston University to learn under the guidance of great professors. Students are fed by dining hall staff, and their facilities are cleaned by the BU maintenance crew.
All of these workers, who could only dream of making a salary equal to that of Robert Brown’s, do the heavy lifting for the university’s image and reputation, all just so that Brown can take the surplus money that they earn and use it to increase his paycheck to a level that just screams “President”.
This is all to say that furloughs and salary freezes are not only wholly unnecessary, but that a more appropriate redistribution of wealth within the University’s faculty should be a top priority for anyone who cares about the well-being of their fellow person, with or without the pressure that a pandemic adds. There would have been no need for furloughs and salary freezes had the workers who generate money been granted their fair share of that money in the first place!
There’s no reason to be so critical of our movement. We aim to have Boston University — a school that charges triple the cost of tuition when compared to many other schools — actually put some of that money toward something that directly benefits students.
And amidst a global pandemic, cleanliness and hygiene are more important than ever. There has never been a better time for us to fight this fight, and we must continue building our movement until our demands are met.
Boston University has the money to pay for our laundry. Are we going to let them keep lining their wallets with mighty salaries that uphold corporate hierarchies, or are we going to put some of that power back into our hands?
Mikey DeDona (CAS '22) is from Bradenton, Fla. He majors in political science.