You’ve just finished the most stressful midterm of your life. You leave the classroom, grab a bite to eat, and that familiar rumble starts deep within your bowels. You rush to the washroom, drop trou, and relieve yourself. You go to wipe and are confronted with a perilous sight: one-ply, non-perforated toilet paper. It looks as though it would be more at home lining the bottom of a gift bag than hanging in a washroom.
For U of T students, faculty, and staff, this is the nightmare that plagues many a washroom-going experience. The toilet paper found in many stalls is cheap and barely satisfactory. This is not the type of toilet paper that the people of Canada’s number-one university deserves.
Of all the issues the school can tackle to improve the lives of its students, better washroom supplies might be the most straightforward. Mental health, transit fares, and housing prices are all major causes of stress. But we shouldn’t be stressed when we poop. It’s a problem so simple to rectify that it’s shameful that it persists.
The impact of inadequate toilet paper is not a problem isolated to the washroom. This issue can disrupt your entire day — painful remnants of toilet paper may remain in your private cavity long after you leave the stall.
There is an inequity to the toilet paper problem. Those who possess the means to live close to campus need not subject themselves to the university toilet paper. They can easily walk home and use their personal collection of luxurious four-ply.
But those who commute are faced with a range of frightening options. They could try and hold it and risk some disastrous event during lecture. Maybe they could pop into a nearby restaurant and hope that they have superior materials and won’t require a purchase to access the restroom. But in times of desperation, most will opt for the closest option: they will subject their most private of areas to the transparent monstrosity that is U of T toilet paper.
Our sphincters need not suffer in silence. Our student unions exist to advocate for the well-being of the student body, including the student butt. Often, the unions spend time focusing on grand issues. This is not to degrade the importance of activism on issues of transit or housing, but they should not distract from the day-to-day issues we all face. Better toilet paper for our behinds is an initiative we can all easily get behind.
Superior toilet paper will of course come at a cost. There are two possibilities for how such an improvement could be funded. Our student union could advocate for the university to allocate more funding internally. This route is perilous. With the Ford government slashing tuition revenue for universities by 10 per cent, it is unlikely that Governing Council will approve such an expense.
Rather, I believe a small bathroom materials fee ought to be voted on during the spring University of Toronto Students’ Union elections. This fee could allow a substantial increase in the quality of toilet paper provided. In the grand scheme of things, I believe this is a rather worthwhile expense for students to feel comfortable anytime they use the washroom.
With a thicker ply, two counter-arguments can be raised: clogged toilets and environmental impact in the form of wasted paper. And, anyone who has used single ply is aware of the excessive folding and rolling required to create a suitable wiping pad. A thicker roll does away with this labour; the same amount of paper is used but with a lower portion of the roll.
Additionally, a perforated roll, one where the paper is divided into easy to tear sections, allows users to be more deliberate in their wiping. Panic can set in with a single ply. Aware of its inadequacy, a user will roll and roll, attempting to get as much as possible to clean up. Perforations allow the user to think deeply about how much they truly need.
If we can’t fix something as basic as the toilet paper in our stalls, we cannot hope to tackle the bigger problems on campus. If we were to collectively say, “this isn’t good enough,” it would show the school, the city, and the province that we do have a voice and that we care enough to want a higher quality of student life.
Christopher Chiasson is a fourth-year Political Science Student at Innis College.