Davidson College scrubbing historic perk for students

May 8, 2014 by

DAVIDSON It’s hard to know where to start when it comes to historic quirks about Davidson College – in business since 1837 and the place where Woodrow Wilson practiced his oratory and Stephen Curry his lay-ups.

For our purposes, we will start in 1911, when the minutes of a faculty meeting raised the need for a campus laundry: Agricultural students who worked mornings in the fields had a malodorous air about them, according to college lore.

It took 14 years, but in 1925, the college built its own laundry and since then has washed, dried, folded and ironed students’ clothes for free.

That perk will end a year from now, the college notified its 2,000 students Wednesday afternoon. After 90 years, they’ll be on their own, though the college will add more free washers and dryers to those already available.

This is a big deal. Davidson takes its traditions seriously. Though nationally prominent for its academics, free laundry distinguishes Davidson on every Internet list of special student benefits for various colleges.

For decades, each incoming Davidson student has been assigned a laundry number (only bother to write it on the clothes you want back, every freshman is told). At reunions, alumni recite their laundry numbers to show they’re still with it, said Richard Terry, who oversees the laundry as director of auxiliary services (Terry graduated from Davidson in 1981; his laundry number was 309).

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Making the announcement a year in advance will provide time to find jobs for the staff of more than a dozen who work in the laundry service, Terry said. In all, the move will save the college $400,000 annually.

Carol Quillen, Davidson’s president, said she wants to apply the savings to the college’s core initiatives, things like scholarships, internships, research, the entrepreneurship program and community-based learning.

“Traditions here are sacred,” said Quillen, now in her third year as president. “Tradition is what makes it so hard to change. But we must practice good stewardship of our resources.”

Quillen, who washed her own clothes as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago and while pursuing her Ph.D. at Princeton, added that no one comes to Davidson for free laundry.

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via Davidson College scrubbing historic perk for students | CharlotteObserver.com.

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