Toilet paper equality row at Canadian university

Luxury loo roll in the office of the president at Ryerson University, bog-standard paper elsewhere

November 2, 2015
Ply all the fuss? Students receive only bog-standard loo roll

As exposés go, it may not rank up there with the Pentagon Papers, but student journalists have captured the attention of Ryerson University in Canada, and national coverage there, with an investigation of differential toilet papers.

Under the headline “Two-ply toilet paper creates two-tiered Ryerson,” The Ryerson Eyeopener reported that bathrooms throughout the university are stocked with one-ply, Inside Higher Ed reported. The exception, the newspaper said, is in two floors of the administration building, which house the offices of president, provost, and vice presidents for administration and finance, research and innovation, and university advancement.

Ryerson officials did not dispute the finding but noted (and the student newspaper subsequently acknowledged) other, leased spaces off-campus, where Ryerson employees enjoy two-ply comfort: the offices of alumni relations, international affairs, diversity institute, finance and human resources.

Read next: Game of thrones: John Sutherland on university loos

The Canadian Press checked in with other universities and found that at the universities of Guelph, Ottawa and Toronto, the tushes of presidents, professors and undergraduates all have a common experience with toilet paper.

Ryerson emailed the Canadian Press to say that “we are examining a switch to two-ply but we need to be mindful of costs and the fact that buildings with older plumbing systems can only accommodate one-ply”.

Some online have characterised this dispute as a classic “first world problem”. But many Ryerson students have gone on social media to say that, yes, this matters to them. Many others are just enjoying the debate.

Some American higher education observers known for keen observations on inequity are also praising the story.


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