Why must SFU Burnaby get the butt-end of the toilet paper roll?

No one comes out of the toilet paper situation with clean hands on the mountain

Guests of Goldcorp Centre for the Arts are spoiled next to Burnaby Mountain. Photo: Andrea Renney/The Peak

By: Paige Riding, News Writer

In the “Whale of a Birthday” episode of the culturally impactful show Spongebob Squarepants, Squidward performs a song for Pearl on her sixteenth birthday. The monumental song won audiences over with the stunning lyric, “When my tear ducts give issue, I can’t use just any tissue, I need four ply, four ply, four ply, when I cry.” 

This song resonates with me to this very day. It shaped my expectations for myself and what I deserve in my tissues. You can thus imagine my horror, my dismay, my shock when I headed into my first washroom stall at the university I would call home for the next two-plus years to find the flimsiest quarter-ply toilet paper I have ever had the displeasure of using.

This sick, sad excuse for toilet paper exists in every toilet stall around the Burnaby campus. Unless students whip out their own toilet roll from their bags, the quarter-ply nightmare is inescapable atop this cursed mountain. From residential buildings to Blusson and beyond, the wretched rolls wreak their havoc. No one is safe.

Each dispenser possesses two humongous rolls that hardly fit. Despite its pretense, bigger is not always better. The hefty rolls get stuck after a pathetic amount of paper reaches the hands of SFU patrons. The desperate grasp for a sufficient amount of toilet paper results in little to no success. Like a pathetic attempt at confetti, teensy squares of TP find themselves in the hands of the betrayed, the stranded. 

In a cruel twist of fate, these pieces flutter forgotten to the floor where they belong. Users are left helpless on their porcelain thrones. Silent cries for help sound out as the only way to get more TP is to carefully, care-fu-lly, move the roll to reveal a little more of the paper. The stall floors of each washroom are covered in little snowflakes of failed attempts at attaining a sufficient wad of TP. Beside each scrap lies the tears of students who just want to feel clean, but can’t.

Rushing between classes and need to go? Good luck, kid. Wanting to speed up the prolonged time of a particularly predominant number two? Yeah, right. Everybody knows now. You should have done your business at home, I guess.

Less is not always more in the TP industry. The toilet paper rolls across campus echo the transparency of dollar store tissue paper for bagged birthday presents. Thin enough to view your own hand through it, this stuff requires at the minimum five or six bunches or folds to do a meagre job of things. If SFU really wanted to help the environment, or whatever they had in mind with this toilet paper monstrosity, the toilet paper decision makers would have put their heads together to realize that flimsier paper requiring twice as many layers (not including scrap waste on the floor) is more of a waste than a greater ply paper that requires less bunching.

To rub salt in the wounds even more, other SFU campuses have effective TP that is not see-through. Our downtown campuses boast double-ply TP for their toilet needs. For those formal meetings and important guests at Harbour Centre? They get to have have triple-ply! Maybe it’s the elevation getting to me, but is this not unfair for the students, faculty, and staff on top of Burnaby Mountain?

We need a thicker TP around Burnaby. The sorry excuse of paper we have currently is a waste of resources, and as far as preventing us from having to wipe with our bare hands, it scores a 3/7. With such thin material to work with, is the job really being done as well as it could be? As it should be? The fix is easy enough: it’s not impossible to find a thicker ply that works with the current dispensers. All we ask is for our toilet experience to be given the same amount of consideration as those at the Vancouver campuses. By phasing out the current abominations in our stalls, bums all over campus will be better off.