Student Thinks Machine Situation Needs to Change
By Daniella Bassi '14
Amherst College has an inexhaustible fountain of resources: an endowment of $1.3 billion; an extensive collection of artwork, archives and other rare and ancient documents; and extremely fruitful music, science and main libraries, combined with full access to the libraries and other affiliated resources of Smith College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College and the University of Massachusetts. The College has also earned a reputation of being one of the top, if not the best, schools in America, and it can use its prestige in order to foster cooperative relationships with other prestigious colleges and institutions, as well as to draw famous speakers, academic experts and artists to campus in order to teach, lecture and perform. It has the funds and space to continually improve and construct buildings on campus in order to benefit the students and faculty, whether that means renovating dorms or building a new science center. It gives its students nearly omnipotent insurance, a health center around the corner, a police station with rides home in the night, an emergency medical service for all hours that won’t turn them in for drinking, free private music lessons, instruments and help acquiring them cheaply, locally grown and often organic produce and homemade foods, jobs, entertainment, nature all around and proximity to town (a touch of city at least)….everything you can think of. We have easy access to things, free bus rides, decently sized rooms, pretty good desks, beds that are good enough to get some sleep on, bathrooms that are cleaned every weekday and countless study nooks in which to hang out or do homework. We even get washers and dryers in great shape and that clean our things quickly.

We are provided with all these things that I’ve nearly put you to sleep going on about, except for a change machine. We have an awful change machine; in the words of a Keefe front desk worker, a “tempermental, useless, always-broken-when-you-need-it change machine.” None of you can deny it. We’ve all scoured dirty jean pockets, roommates, and bank accounts trying to find the money to do laundry in the first place, sorted that truckload of clothes into load piles, made that long, frigid and annoying walk to Keefe, put forth all that effort and deferred precious study time only to find that the machine is broken yet again and spits any bill you give it back out, no matter how many ways you try to iron out the creases. We’ve all made the loser’s walk back to beg friends for quarters and, even if we’ve found someone who’d lend us a hand, have only been able to wash one quick emergency load after having been perfectly prepared. Just last week, I went to the bank and turned a $20 bill into two $10 piles of quarters because I didn’t want to go through that again.

Why should we have to go all the way to town, or buy something at Target and ask for change in quarters, to do some laundry? With the high price on our college education and an even larger endowment, why can’t we have a functioning change machine? It would certainly benefit posterity and save everyone many needless trips off campus when they should be studying, and its price would be a mere drop in the bucket for the College. How do I know this? Well if everyone would just google “change machine” and go to the shopping link, they’d see that a large change machine with an 800 dollar coin capacity, one that is even more flexible than ours in that it accepts 1, 5 and 10 dollar bills, is only 1000 dollars plus taxes, which would still make the cost negligible. This machine would also be mobile, so there would be no need to spend money removing the current one. It just would remain unused until the funds for its removal accrue. This is a school with a population of roughly 1700 people and an $800 dollar coin capacity would be plenty for such a small group of busy students, many of whom don’t get the chance to do laundry on a weekly basis. I daresay that the current machine doesn’t even have such a capacity. The solution is quick (express shipping), easy and relatively cheap, and it would bring a sense of stability and reliability in the ease of acquiring change to do laundry. Maybe it wouldn’t even pile up as much!

The student body is undoubtedly aware of this problem and how easy it is to fix and how silly it is that such a rich and prestigious college has such a small but obstructive technical issue. In such a state of awareness as is present in the minds of such intelligent, ambitious and creative people, I think it should be easy to petition the College and persuade them to give us what we so rightfully deserve and have needed for so long: a functional, non-tempermental change machine — so let’s do it.

Issue 12, Submitted 2011-01-26 03:34:11