University of Miami students living in the Apartment Area face not only their fellow residents when it comes to competing for washers and dryers, but also unwelcome campus intruders.
According to Lt. Michael Colombo of the University of Miami Police Department, an e-mail sent to UMPD on March 31 reported an unauthorized person using the AA washing machines. The e-mail, sent by a university staff member, described a white male in his 50s. The man used the machines in AA building 23, Colombo said.
The AA machines are free to use and located outside, making them accessible to anyone who makes their way onto UM’s open campus.
Although only one case has been reported to police, people not part of the UM community have been seen using the machines on several occasions, said residents living in the AA.
“People just come in their cars with clothes to wash,” Siobhan Williams, a senior living in the AA, said. “I see it about every other weekend. It usually happens in the middle of the day.”
Williams said that she is not bothered by non-residents using the AA machines, as she usually does her laundry in the morning or at night.
Kevin Kirby, a junior living in the AA, said that for him the intruders are a nuisance.
“People in their 40s will drive up with their kids and do their laundry,” Kirby said. “It’s frustrating to drag all my stuff over to the machines, only to have someone not affiliated with the university come in their car.”
Gilbert Arias, assistant vice president for Student Affairs, and Chris Hartnett, safety and security coordinator for residence halls, emphasized that the washers and dryers are available solely for university students.
“We have a policy that nobody except UM students, particularly those in the Apartment Area, are meant to use those machines,” Hartnett said. “If people using them are non-affiliated with the university, we ask them to leave.”
“We encourage students to report,” Arias said. “The UM Police are wonderful, they respond right away.”
Since the incident on March 31, officers have added the outdoor washing machines to their script patrol, a daily patrol on which certain points are hit.
“If officers see people out of place, they confront them,” Colombo said. “They do that quite often.”
According to Colombo, standard procedure is to issue a trespass warning the first time an unauthorized person is seen on campus. If the intruder returns, he or she is arrested. Trespass warnings are issued about 2-3 times a week.
According to Mel Tenen, assistant vice president of Auxiliary Services, free machines were installed in residential colleges and the AA in 2005.
“Service calls have diminished greatly since then, partly because of the brand new equipment, partly because students aren’t jamming the machines as much,” Tenen said. “They are dispersing their laundry more now.”
Kirby said he does not think the cost-free machines are the main reason non-residents utilize the laundry facilities.
“I don’t know that putting a price on the machines would dissuade people from using them,” Kirby said. “It’s just so easy for them to come here and use them. Unless the price went up significantly, which would be bad for students.”
Kirby’s friend, Australian exchange student Sean Burgess, said there should be ways of ensuring only UM students are using the machines in the AA.
“Maybe swiping your cane card or having to pick up a token to use the machinery would be a good idea,” Burgess suggested.