Students at Spanish college fight ban on men using washing machines

It’s not unusual to hear students at a university residence complain about terrible cafeteria food or slow Wi-Fi. But students at one residence in Madrid have added another, less familiar, complaint to their list: a long-standing rule that bans male students from using the residence’s washing machines.

Despite repeated calls for more than three years for a change in the rules, the code of conduct at the Duque de Ahumada de la Guardia Civil residence continues to specify that “use of the washing machines by male residents will result in expulsion, ranging from 15 days to three months, from the residence”.

Male students at the dorm, which caters for the children and grandchildren of Guardia Civil officers, are instead instructed to quietly pass their clothes to female friends to be washed.

The association that represents Guardia Civil officers is demanding that the rule be changed. “What is being asked of residents is obsolete, unjust, sexist and borderline ridiculous,” Francisco Cecilia, of the Unified Guardia Civil Association told El Mundo. “In today’s world, it makes no sense that male residents would have to secretly pass their clothes to a female or visit a laundromat to do their laundry.”

It’s not the only antiquated rule that the students object to, he said. Male students are not allowed to enter rooms of female students, while others have complained about difficulty receiving visitors, “as if it were a prison instead of a residence” where students pay €465 (£380) a month. Any student looking to change the rules, through taking action against management, risks immediate expulsion.

The antiquated rules, said Cecilia, were down to poor management. “We don’t know what’s going on there.” His association is now seeking answers, he added. “It’s clear that there are things we don’t understand.”

Officials at the residence were not available to comment on Friday.

On Saturday, the Guardia Civil said the laundry was set up years ago at the request of female students, to allow them to wash their undergarments.

While males could not use the washing machines, it said all students had access to an off-site laundry service, the cost of which was included in their monthly fees.

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