Texas A

July 22, 2010

It's no surprise that universities have been eliminating extras in order to tighten budgets, but getting rid of toilet paper might really stink. Texas A&M University, which is trying to cut $60 million campuswide, hopes to save $82,000 by ceasing to stock the bathroom essential in dormitories.

“We looked at what areas can we cut and not negatively affect our students’ academics, and it was that,” said Sherylon Carroll, associate vice president for communications.

The toilet paper elimination would begin in August 2011, giving the university enough time to inform the students and ensure that campus stores are stocking it. At that point, toilet paper will no longer be provided in residence hall bathrooms shared by up to four people; the university will continue to supply it in larger bathrooms, administrative office areas, and public areas.

“It’s going to make people resort to going where there is toilet paper on campus and taking it from there,” Daniel Overstreet, an A&M student, told the local newspaper.

But not all students plan to try to beat the system: “I guess I would just buy my own,” said incoming freshman Mark Silverthorn, adding that it might be a minor inconvenience.

The change affects about 6,000 of the university’s 10,000 students who live on campus, meaning that the university will be saving about $13 per person – while an average person uses about $50 worth of toilet paper per year. Carroll said that it is not unusual for universities to eliminate amenities like toilet paper when cutting costs, and that “some students prefer to bring their own toilet paper anyway.” (Indeed, at Princeton University, students last year debated whether their toilet paper provided sufficient coverage and comfort.)

But though a lack of toilet paper may seem dramatic, the overall budget reduction will also cost the university about 500 faculty and staff members, new theater furniture, stable student worker wages, an art exhibition, paper and toner, among other things. While all Texas universities are planning cuts, it remains unclear which ones will follow A&M on this particular economy.

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