So, before I start, I don’t want people to see this as a riposte to the article by Theo Cruise, or an attack on The Record for publishing it. After all, there’s not much in it that I can really disagree with. Laundry (both in halls of residence and in private accommodation like Ayton House) has been a problem for students for years. And for years, the Students’ Association of which I am now a representative, hasn’t done much about it. So, rather than a reply, take this as an answer to Theo’s eloquently posed question.
First, I’m glad that the original article clarified that the issue with Laundry in halls is not the University’s fault. It would be much easier if it was, if the problem had a clear, accountable source. But the problems that exist in St Andrews exist in pretty much every University in the country, so solutions are harder to find.
That, however, doesn’t mean that solutions don’t exist. I haven’t had the opportunity to communicate this until now, but i’ve been working behind the scenes to try and get this sorted out. I’m pleased to announce that I, along with representatives from Residential and Business Services, should be having a meeting soon with representatives from Washstation. Before that, i’m going to be trying to pull together every scrap of evidence, every little complaint I can from people currently living in halls. I’m not expecting that meeting to magically solve the problem overnight, but it will at least make sure Washstation are aware of it. If you are having issues and want to get involved in the solution, you can email me at [email protected] to tell me about all your problems. It might even be therapeutic.
Like I said, that isn’t a magic wand. I will not be able to walk out of this meeting and announce that nobody will ever have an issue with laundry ever again. But it’ll be a start.
A start to what, though? Well, the reason that I’ve waited until now to write this response is that on Tuesday, Association Councils passed a motion empowering me to- get this!- set up a working group to deal with the Washstation issue. Dramatic, I know. I’m surprised the BBC haven’t been in touch already. Call it the Washstation Proclamation.
Joking (and my awful Abraham Lincoln puns) aside, the reason I’m mentioning this is that student activism around this issue works. Now, I know I would say that, but it’s true. Look at the evidence. Look at Warwick, where a mass campaign by students drove Circuit Laundry out of town. Look at Lancaster, where laundry companies were forced to lower their prices by student action. Look at York, where pretty much the same thing happened. If that can happen down south, imagine what we can do here with a smaller, more easily mobilised student body.
So, the previous article was right. The Students’ Association needs to do more. But it can only do so with the support of the students. I’ve been really impressed by the passion and energy shown by those pushing the issue this year- first years who have been at this university for fewer months than I have years. Senior Students in halls using their leadership positions to advocate for an issue that might otherwise have slipped under the radar. The staff at Residential and Business Services working hard behind the scenes to fix the issue. I’m honoured to be joining them. I hope you will to.
Anyone who wants to learn more about the campaign please email [email protected]