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23rd February 2016

First our toilet paper, whatever will be next?

Will Baldwin-Pask serves us up a steaming pile of bile as he takes the university’s waste management problems to the cleaners

If there is one thing that should not be compromised beyond what is necessary, it is the toilet-going experience. As an Oak House resident, this is even more important, the toilet being one of the few locations of individual and meditative escape available. But I’m afraid to say that there is something preventing my number twos from feeling first class. The plight of the centre-feed toilet roll dispenser is ruining my second favourite past-time involving bodily functions, and subtly making life that little bit harder for students. This lifeless plastic shell (pictured) that stores my soft white hopes and dreams is haunting the university toilets and restricting our ability to tend to our ‘business’ freely.

I’m a big fan of toilet paper. When life gets messy, you can always rely on a strong, compassionate roll of toilet paper to help you out. However, with the current situation, I feel I’m being robbed of the rights to the roll that I and everyone else deserve. When it comes to number twos, I’m a two-piece man—a simple fold and wipe is generally all I need. The dispensers don’t like this. It is impossible to withdraw any more than one piece of paper at a time from these things; if you’re lucky you might get two, but if you’re grappling with the consequences of a particularly boozy curry night, three or more pieces—maybe even a makeshift toilet paper glove—are completely justified.

The harsh nature of this One Piece Policy has left many people searching for alternative methods, such as the rope-like tugging from the dispenser base to build a stable bed of paper for use. However, I would argue this is not a practical alternative to the classic horizontal roll holder, and completely kills the relaxed mood required for perfect performances.

Why have we been given such limitations on our freedom? What are the university worried about exactly? Do they think we’re all opportunistic delinquents intent on stealing all the paper, taking it back to our home counties and dealing it like a rare drug to make some sort of profit? Quite frankly I think I’m old enough and sensible enough now to be trusted with using an appropriate amount of toilet paper, and the lack of faith the university has in me is insulting and outrageous.

Not only does the dispenser provide issues with paper handling, but every now and then one might be unlucky enough to experience the trauma of the paper tearing before it has left the dispenser, and thus falling helplessly within it. Trapped. Irretrievable. The cruellest of fate-twists.

To make matters worse, the bloody thing is kind of transparent—it’s like the creators of this merciless machine are mocking you by providing a constant reminder of how terrible your life has become. The incarcerated nature of the poor, tortured paper—lying there, staring up at you in desperate need of some assistance—is a perfect metaphor for how one feels, pained, lonely, and ready to cry.

It doesn’t just end there though. These things have been fitted with a robust locking system so that you have no chance of saving the situation. For people in Oak House, this means that when the paper source inevitably runs out, they have no choice but to wait for the key-holding authorities to replace it whenever they arbitrarily show up, relying desperately on something beyond their control, the hapless victims of an abhorrent system. I wonder if the perverse administrators at the university laugh to themselves at the thought of all those students hopping around hopelessly, trousers around their legs, attempting to spare themselves maximum humiliation.

But this state of reliance and subjugation at the hands of the dispenser may be exactly what the university want. We all know how left-wing and liberal the Students’ Union and the university like to be, but the system they’ve implemented with the campus toilet paper is akin to sheer communism. The interference with and regulation of one’s toilet paper usage, presumably so there’s “enough to go around”, as unintentional as it may be, is unjust.

Now, I’m as left as they come, but even I can recognise when we’re drifting into Stalin territory. I never thought I’d turn to the private sector, but now it seems only a hefty box of store bought Kleenex can ease the pain I’m going through. Students’ Union? More like Soviet Union. We should not have to suffer whilst the university bastardises the natural art of defecation; they say with great poo comes great power, but I don’t feel that powerful right now. All evil empires end up dismantled, with the power eventually returned to the people. Everyone loved the classic horizontal holder—would it really be that hard to reinstate?

We need to flush away this oppressive system. We need to put the seat down on this cold maltreatment. We need a return to a format that makes everyone happy, or the university will have a blocked bog of disgruntled students to deal with. Then they’ll be the ones wiping with their bare hands for a change.

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