Adam Jutt ’25 is planning on majoring in who knows what (maybe public policy and economics). Aside from being in The Flat Hat intern program, he is a member of Club Tennis and involved with InterVarsity. Feel free to email Adam at email@example.com.
The views expressed in the article are the author’s own.
The Opinions section of The Flat Hat is designed for individuals to express debatable views. Opinions, if you will. Rational beliefs with which another rational person might reasonably disagree. I feel a little bit silly, then, writing this article about an objective fact.
The toilet paper in the many bathrooms of the College of William and Mary is bad.
You, reading this now, probably agree with me. Why wouldn’t you? It is thin, rough and difficult to evenly fold. Countless otherwise great days on campus have been ruined by a jaunt into the restroom to go number two. If you are like me — and you might be without even realizing it — you have been pooping far less than you would back home (I should have written this anonymously), simply to reduce the frequency with which you consult the translucent scrolls of discomfort allotted to us for the purpose of butt wiping. Might that tendency lead to serious gastrointestinal health problems down the road, health problems for which the College could be potentially held liable? I don’t know. What I do know is that the toilet paper is bad. Undeniably.
If it is so bad, why do we continue to put up with it? That is a question which has perplexed me for minutes now. One interesting theory concerns the psychological entwinement in the youth of the world of the concepts “school” and “cheap toilet paper.” Your elementary, middle and high schools most likely boasted similar one-ply brands to those used here, which may have conditioned you to develop a subconscious association between the two. Ergo, you accept the bad toilet paper in the context of college simply because it feels appropriate or inevitable — even though that acceptance ignores the crucial distinction that, while in primary and secondary school most of us could avoid ever having to poop at school, that luxury is not afforded to us here.
A thorough tackling of this topic would be incomplete without an analysis of the relevant economic factors at play. The question of why we accept the toilet paper here is — as discussed — very difficult, but the question of why it is supplied is most likely not; cheap toilet paper costs less than the good stuff, and I feel comfortable purporting that fact to be at least partially responsible for the purchasing patterns of the College. We use a lot of toilet paper here: the data section of the Residence Life page on the College’s website states that residence halls alone go through 72,000 rolls a year. Even at mere cents a roll, that is a hefty sum. With that in mind, coupled with an examination of the relative prices of cheap and fancy toilet paper brands, the claim that a switch to a nicer brand could be expected to cost six digits a year easily becomes unsettlingly tough to dispute.
Still, I believe that the switch would be a more than worthwhile investment. Most problems facing any sizable population are incredibly complex. Various solutions can be proposed, each replete with debatable costs and debatable benefits. In this case, however, the problem facing us as a student body — and I don’t feel it is an abrogation of my duty to journalistic integrity to unequivocally label it a problem — is incredibly simple. There is but one possible solution, whose costs are primarily one-dimensional and whose benefits, moral and otherwise, are in my mind overwhelming.
In researching this topic, I learned that I am not the first person to express this opinion. An article in the Wren Journal by Nicholas Sas this past spring made a similar and, in my opinion, very well-articulated argument. And yet nothing happened. Why should I expect adding my voice to the choir to lead to a different result? In truth, I don’t. At least, not independently of help from all of you readers sympathetic to my cause. That is why, beginning tomorrow, I invite you all to join me in a toilet paper strike.
Just kidding about the strike part, that would be awful. But I wasn’t kidding about the needing-your-help part. Discuss the issue with your friends. Bring it up with the elected representatives of your class. If you feel as passionately as I do, perhaps consider conducting research to develop arguments to which I failed to give adequate space here. One such argument with potential merit concerns the negative environmental effects of one-ply toilet paper, on account of one having to use much more to “get the job done,” so to speak. Do whatever you feel might in good faith advance our cause.
The only wrong way to act on the path to redress is to refrain from acting at all. (And crimes. I do not condone the committing of crimes in this case. It’s just toilet paper.)
The next time you are wiping your butt on campus, please, think of me. Wait, no. Please don’t. But do think about this piece and whether you are ready to stand up for your right to a comfortable wiping experience.