Halls prepared. Students aware. Plans in place. Having endured several months of criticism, the million-pound goliath that is Washstation, in addition to the concessions already plucked from them in Autumn, finally deigned to speak with its customers.
Promising free laundry to all of those who showed, representatives from Washstation repeated ad nauseum how much they prided themselves on customer service and satisfaction. Sure, thousands of their customers had to go through months overpaying for a laundry service not substantially better than that of the Dark Ages, but at least they were overpaying a company that cared about them. They cared so much, in many cases they seemed like they knew more about what students thought of their service than the students themselves. In St Salvator’s Hall, a student started their question with “Almost 2,000 people filled in the survey about Washstation” when she was interrupted by staff asking “What survey?”. This was especially surprising to students as it was common knowledge that Washstation had, in fact, already been sent an email by our Association President Jamie Rodney. In John Burnett Hall, the Senior Student had requested that they move the meeting to the common room instead of the washroom, this was to provide more space for students as they were all fairly cramped in a small area. Instead of politely requesting that they remained in the washroom, a member of staff from Washstation had, reportedly, “got in the senior student’s face and said ‘no we came show you how to use the laundry facilities!”.
Condescending is not even the word: Washstation seemingly arrived with the understanding that instead of frank discussion in good faith, they were delivering classes on how we are to use their ‘state-of-the-art’ washing machines correctly. In McIntosh, Washstation employees seemingly believed that students in Scotland’s number one university didn’t know the difference between washing machines and dryers. To be fair, if that’s the level of intelligence they ascribe to us then the fact they think we’ll accept we’re getting a good deal makes a lot more sense.
In Whitehorn Hall, students didn’t even have the luxury of having their thoughts and opinions listened to by the company to which they’re paying hundreds of pounds a year – and why should they!? As I’m sure we can all agree, the 180 students living in Whitehorn – 90 of whom, alongside Gannochy residents, live in the cheapest accommodation possible at the University – simply do not merit the time. Washstation thought the same; one Whitehorn student visited the University Hall session. The remainder who had waited patiently for their chance to express themselves could just be thrown under the same bus that has also tarnished their clothes, their hall experience, and their everyday life since the beginning of this academic year. If they wanted to have their concerns taken seriously, they should have tried being less poor.
So: where does this leave the Washstation campaign that has been led with vigour for the past few months by the Students’ Association? Mind you, a Students’ Association that is still yet to release the survey it conducted at the start of this year. Is it not time to let all fly as we approach the end of the year and take the fight against Washstation into the end game? It is nigh on impossible to envisage a situation in which Washstation does not come up year after year in student complaints. Students thought nothing could replace Circuit as the most hated name on campus, and Washstation reared its ugly head to prove them wrong. We cannot allow any opportunity – to lower the costs, to force the provision of a better service, to bring about a better situation in halls for everyone – to pass us, and we shan’t. The Students Association should release its student laundry survey, the university should clarify to all the nature of its price-setting and profit-sharing shenanigans with Washstation, and the latter – this million-pound company – should wake up and smell the detergent: fix it now or get taken to the cleaners.