Off-Third: Students wash clothing one article at a time to protest laundry conditions

The only thing Herculean about the Hercules laundry app is that it should be abandoned, protesters say.


Natalia Kempthorne-Curiel

(Natalia Kempthorne-Curiel for WSN)

Naisha Roy, Deputy Opinion Editor

Off-Third is WSN’s satire column.

After struggling with the excess cost of laundry, the scarce amount of machines in each dorm and the glitchy Hercules app, which serves as the universal laundry payment method for NYU residence halls, students are staging a protest by washing their clothes one article at a time. Residents are finding themselves sitting in front of machines, watching protesters’ individual socks get tossed around for hours.

“One time, I tried to use the Hercules app and it stole my Social Security number while flashing an error message that read, ‘Nice try,’” one protester said while carefully loading a tattered NYU Eats tote bag into a washer. “And it still didn’t even activate the machine.”

Students have also complained about the grimy conditions in many of the laundry rooms, as some have been forced to leave clothes out to pile up. They constantly encounter leaks, mold and other questionable substances that have built up in the deep recesses of the dormitory basements where laundry is housed.

“I was just trying to dry my clothes when I saw a family of rats munching on a discarded Tide Pod,” said another protester, on the verge of tears. “I felt like I was intruding on an important moment. I just want to be able to wash my period panties in peace.”

Another issue with the laundry rooms is that many students don’t pick up their clothes on time. Despite cycle times being listed on the Hercules app, students argued that the timers are so inaccurate that they “might as well have been using a sundial.”

Although signs in the laundry rooms say not to remove other residents’ clothes, students often have to resort to this technique to get their laundry done in a timely manner. As a result, piles of unclaimed laundry intermingle on unwashed tables, never to be seen again. Students recount that this leads to some very awkward situations.

“I was in the middle of unloading this guy’s laundry when he walked in,” one Rubin Hall resident recalled. “I tried quickly stuffing the clothes back in, but he recognized his limited-edition, autographed Supreme x Mickey Mouse boxers and confronted me.”

When asked what they are going to do about the protests, administrators said they would solve the problem by doing what they do best: completely ignoring it. NYU considered giving students temporary tokens to nearby laundromats as a short-term solution, but ultimately decided not to, claiming it would cause a 200% hike in tuition. 

“I’m honestly not sure where the issues are stemming from — when I was in college, we would just wash our clothes with leftover rainwater,” a university spokesperson said. “I don’t know how this generation expects to survive in the real world if they have such an issue with the occasional rat getting mixed in with their laundry. Personally, I think a dollar per cycle for a little bit of mold and the possibility of your clothes spontaneously combusting is a pretty good deal, especially with the kind of inflation New York City has been facing recently.” 

Protesters say they won’t stop until the university reimburses them for the total cost of every sock the machines have eaten, but this total would reportedly cost more than the university’s $5 billion endowment. 

“I can’t afford to keep buying new luxury vintage pieces from The RealReal,” said one Lipton Hall resident on the edge of a breakdown after losing yet another article of clothing. “If the dryers keep stealing my clothes, I’m going to wind up filming a Shein haul.”

WSN’s Opinion section strives to publish ideas worth discussing. The views presented in the Opinion section are solely the views of the writer.

Contact Naisha Roy at [email protected].