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First public hand dryers appear on campus

Wet paper towels often overflow the small trash bins in the Beamer Center restrooms. The mess  led to longer clean ups for custodial staff and could even cause the spread of contagious diseases for users. To mend this, director of facilities management Jim Johnson and his associates selected and installed the first electric hand dryers ever on Wheaton’s campus.
This decision came as scheduled renovations for the restrooms in the Beamer Center were completed over Christmas break. Johnson was seeking the best timing for the introduction of the dryers, which were handled with his team.
“We had never had hand dryers on campus (because) the biggest concern with putting them in-just to put in electric hand dryers-was the electrical power and the electrical run. You had to open up walls put in conduit, run the wires and then repair the walls. But we hit a remodeling point, and we decided that we wanted to try them,” Johnson said.
The new air dryers have positive benefits for Wheaton employees. Johnson explained, “They are a very simple clean for our custodian department; it’s basically a spray and a wipe!”
Johnson also recognized the impacts the dryers would have for the environment. He said, “You should see a reduced use of paper towels, you should see less trash, leaving and going to the landfill, which would be a cost savings. We’re told, and I’m assuming it’s true, (that it is) environmentally safe so there would be less possible disease spreading.”
Johnson estimated that the dryers would last for 15 to 20 years.
Freshman Kyra Perez found the performance of the electric hand dryers to be excellent and well worth the initial financial cost. “It was a good experience! My hands felt dry quick, and it was pretty cool as well.”
Executive vice president of college life and chair representative for the committee for environmental sustainability sophomore Morgan Alexandria Jacob said in accordance, “It’s a very simple process. You just stick your hands in and pull them out,” she said.
Jacob spoke on behalf of Student Government to note the environmental and economic sustainability the dryers will have on campus, saying, “(The hand dryers) will help us be more efficient. We are very much for the change. We have been creating a culture in general that will cause the administration to move in these new types of directions. This was not a specific policy that we asked for, so it was a great blessing, and we are very much in support of it.”
Jacob hoped that the dryers would be automatically more environmentally efficient by leaving less of a carbon footprint and that such progressive technology would help continue to create a culture of sustainability for both Wheaton College students and staff.
Senior Bornell Richardson, a part-time worker for the custodian staff, strongly supported the equipping of the new dryers for Wheaton. “It cuts down on the amount of paper towels we have to pick up and the waste that we have to pick up from people drying their hands. It lessens the waste by about half — girls and guys. It is very helpful for us as custodians that we can get to other aspects of our job and don’t have to really focus so much on picking up waste after people.”
Richardson continued by noting the health and cost benefits. “It does cut down on health risks (of) having people to touch the towel rack that would spread more diseases. This way they do not have to touch anything to dry their hands. It cuts down on costs just on affording the paper towels that people need. (Users) now have an alternative way of washing their hands.”
Paper towels are still available in the Beamer Center restrooms for those who prefer paper over air drying.
Johnson anticipates that the new electric dryers will start appearing around college property as time goes forward. “We plan on doing some locker room remodeling over in the Student Recreation Center in the next six to eight months. We will put a unit in each of the locker rooms. Then we might put them in other washrooms once we determine they are the way to go for us.”

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