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Softer Touch Comes To Student Bathrooms

* Lewis announces two-ply toilet paper is coming soon

By Scott A. Resnick, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Students may soon be receiving a pleasant surprise in the most unlikely of places--their bathrooms.

Harvard maintenance officials are currently completing the process of upgrading all remaining one-ply toilet paper to the two-ply variety in all undergraduate residences.

Though students in several upper-class houses already enjoy the thicker paper, the decision to upgrade will bring James River Multi-layer two-ply toilet paper to bathrooms in the remaining houses and first-year dorms which currently provide Scott brand one-ply toilet paper.

According to Robert F. Wolfreys, a supervisor for Facilities Maintenance Operations (FMO) who oversees Dorm Crew, first-year students with in-suite bathrooms have been able to get the James River paper at the dorm crew office in Weld Hall for the past several years.

Gretchen N. Meek '99, dorm crew captain for Dunster House, said the new toilet paper will be a nice change for both comfort and sentimental reasons.

"It's quilted. It reminds me of home," she said. "It just feels better."

In an e-mail, Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68, said he ordered the upgrade in response to student complaints.

"The students spoke and after due deliberation, Harvard listened," he said.

In an interview Wednesday, Lewis said that a December 16 editorial column in The Crimson about toilet paper, written by Geoffrey C. Upton '99, a Crimson editor, brought the issue to his attention.

Lewis added in his e-mail yesterday that the decision was made after much discussion among the Faculty.

"A high-level committee called the Harvard College Toilet Paper Commission, consisting of the Administrative Board, the Faculty Council, the committee on House Life, the Committee on College Life and the Masters of the Houses meeting in joint session, met weekly all fall to consider this important issue," he wrote.

The decision was filtered down to the various College officials responsible for ordering toilet paper across the campus.

According to Wolfreys, he has already supplied the two-ply toilet paper to sev- eral house superintendents who requested to have it by January 2, when students were scheduled to return to campus.

Marie Holcombe, an associate manager of FMO who is responsible for ordering toilet paper in the Yard, said she placed an order for the James River paper to replace the current supply of Scott rolls.

Holcombe said that placement of the toilet paper has already begun in communal bathrooms in Yard dorms.

Compared to the Scott toilet paper, which costs $34.44 per case, Holcombe said that a case of the James River brand was less expensive, costing only $31.31. However, she warned that these figures did not reflect the fact that rolls of the two-ply paper were smaller than the one-ply.

Jason W. Luke '94, an associate manager of FMO who is responsible for ordering toilet paper for upperclass houses, said that experience shows that rolls of the two-ply toilet paper get used quicker than their thinner counterpart.

"You definitely go through it faster because there is just less per role," he said. "[But] when you look at toilet paper as part of a custodial budget...that amount is not that large a percentage of the total."

According to Wolfreys, the switch to two-ply toilet paper will have only a "slight cost impact." He indicated that the extra cost was worthwhile.

"From the students' point of view...it's a quality of life issue," he said.

C. Ted Wright '01, a mid-year candidate for a vacant seat on the Undergraduate Council whose platform calls for universal two-ply toilet paper, said he was excited by Lewis' decision.

"One-ply toilet paper is uncomfortable and often it tends to break at bad times," he said.

"I personally enjoy the comfort of two-ply toilet paper," he said. "For $30,000 a year, I expect the school to be providing quality toilet paper."

Lewis said that he expected favorable student response to the change.

"We are anticipating massive street dancing and street celebrations," he wrote. "[Harvard University Police Department] has been placed on high alert to keep order if necessary.

Marie Holcombe, an associate manager of FMO who is responsible for ordering toilet paper in the Yard, said she placed an order for the James River paper to replace the current supply of Scott rolls.

Holcombe said that placement of the toilet paper has already begun in communal bathrooms in Yard dorms.

Compared to the Scott toilet paper, which costs $34.44 per case, Holcombe said that a case of the James River brand was less expensive, costing only $31.31. However, she warned that these figures did not reflect the fact that rolls of the two-ply paper were smaller than the one-ply.

Jason W. Luke '94, an associate manager of FMO who is responsible for ordering toilet paper for upperclass houses, said that experience shows that rolls of the two-ply toilet paper get used quicker than their thinner counterpart.

"You definitely go through it faster because there is just less per role," he said. "[But] when you look at toilet paper as part of a custodial budget...that amount is not that large a percentage of the total."

According to Wolfreys, the switch to two-ply toilet paper will have only a "slight cost impact." He indicated that the extra cost was worthwhile.

"From the students' point of view...it's a quality of life issue," he said.

C. Ted Wright '01, a mid-year candidate for a vacant seat on the Undergraduate Council whose platform calls for universal two-ply toilet paper, said he was excited by Lewis' decision.

"One-ply toilet paper is uncomfortable and often it tends to break at bad times," he said.

"I personally enjoy the comfort of two-ply toilet paper," he said. "For $30,000 a year, I expect the school to be providing quality toilet paper."

Lewis said that he expected favorable student response to the change.

"We are anticipating massive street dancing and street celebrations," he wrote. "[Harvard University Police Department] has been placed on high alert to keep order if necessary.

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