Opinion
Wake Forest Abdicates Moral Virtue by Rolling the Quad
Old Gold & Black
By
Guest Columnist
Thursday, February 15, 2018

It is time for us to align our institutional values with our behavior and traditions.

It has struck us as morally dissonant that WFU articulates a number of inspiring moral principles, while we continue to ‘roll the quad’ with toilet paper when one of our athletic teams achieves a noteworthy victory, or some other meaningful event occurs for our institution.

As a university, we proudly espouse sound environmental practices and stewardship. In fact, most of our recently constructed buildings are highly rated as environmentally sustainable structures. Yet we throw toilet paper on the trees on Hearn Plaza, frivolously wasting an environmentally derived commodity. According to the National Geographic Green Guide, an estimated 27,000 trees are cut down daily (nearly 10 million annually) to produce toilet paper.  Additionally, removal of the tissue can result in unintended damage to a tree, thereby making it susceptible to disease and infestation. In our opinion, this is incommensurate with our stated values.

As a university, we proudly espouse inclusive respect for all members of our community, yet we require that our grounds management staff clean up after us and remove the toilet paper from the trees. In our opinion, this behavior is elitist and inconsistent with our stated values. As a university, we value responsible financial management, yet we spend hundreds of dollars each year to buy scores of rolls of toilet paper to hand out to newly-arrived first-year students so that they can “learn” the proper technique for “rolling the quad.” This practice is inconsistent with our values. As a university, we proudly espouse a value of giving back to those less fortunate in our surrounding off-campus community, which we do in many meaningful and important ways. Yet, we willfully waste hundreds of rolls of toilet paper that many in our community could use for its intended purpose. (Recently, toilet paper was the donation item of the month for the Second Harvest Food Bank). Again, our behavior is not consistent with our stated values.

Therefore, it is time that we align our values with our behaviors. Let us end the tradition of “rolling the quad” with toilet paper. But let’s not end our celebrations. We propose that our division of Student Life promote a campus-wide challenge among concerned students, faculty, and staff to devise creative, value-consistent alternatives to this tradition. Our goal should be to develop a new and responsible tradition that we can all be proud of. For example, one possible alternative could involve rolling the quad in the large bubble balls used for entertainment at football and basketball games. Given the breadth of creativity that exists in our community, we are confident that we can collectively generate many other unique and fun alternatives to show the world how Deacons share their joy and that are consonant with our institutional values. Let the process begin!

If you agree, please join us by adding your name to the petition to end the practice of rolling the quad with toilet paper.  You can find this petition here

Sincerely, Professors Randall Rogan and John Llewellyn, Department of Communication

  • RacerDeac

    I bet these two are the life of the party everywhere they go.

    Besides, given that our athletic department has run our basketball into the ground, has this really been an issue the last 8 years?

    • R

      Amen brother

  • J

    Hey there – thank you for this. Alumni can’t sign the form due to permission restrictions. You should make the petition a bit more accessible if you can.

  • R

    Did the custodial staff know that there would be times that the quad would be rolled when they took the job?

    • Dean Shore

      Grounds keepers use a leaf blower to blow along with the leaves any paper that is fallen to the ground. They don’t take it out of the trees. It’s such cheap, think paper it pretty much disintegrates.

  • Julie Ann Hartman

    I wonder if Professor Rogan and Professor Llewellyn use birthday candles during a birthday celebration or wrap gifts for holiday celebrations with paper? Do they every buy a balloon or decorate a party with crepe paper? Do they send flowers to their mother’s on Mother’s Day? Maybe. Maybe not. I believe there are many in this world that need to use candles for light, after all a candle’s intended purpose is to provide light. I believe there are better uses for paper than to wrap gifts or as decorations as well. However, the point is that sometimes celebrations and traditions that bond and grow a community together are not always needed to be perfectly set on using materials for their “intended” purposes….I believe that the spirit of the tradition outweighs the trivial concerns of the professors. WF lives Pro Humanitate daily. Rolling the Quad does not diminish or lessen our commitment to our motto. Instead Rolling the Quad recognizes the importance of community, and that to lighten up and enjoy one another in community is valued…even if it has to do with throwing toilet paper into trees. And wait…can I say it, sometimes it is okay to have just a little fun. Laughter and joy also brings community together. Celebrations are not evil or bad.

    • Julie Ann Hartman

      The University has already addressed Rolling the Quad through the Office of Sustainability. https://sustainability.wfu.edu/…/20/faq-rolling-the-quad/

  • John Nelms

    They are probably wallflower types who stand in a corner. Bless their hearts.

  • SamuelWait

    A few points:
    1) Perhaps things have changed since I was last a student in 2011, but I’m fairly certain the toilet paper used in the quad dorms and buildings (the origin of 95% of the toilet paper used when rolling the quad) is 100% recycled and recyclable.

    2) As of February 1, the the university has raised $800 million in the last 4 years. I think we can afford a few extra rolls of the cheap paper that has historically been provided for use in all university bathrooms. If you still feel it is a financial burden, I’m sure the folks in University Advancement or the Deacon Club would be happy to find a donor willing to donate toward the toilet paper fund.

    3) Get off your high horses. Rolling the Quad, and things like it, are traditions that make Wake Forest. They keep us from being a sterile clump of buildings with people in them. They make us a community. Part of creating an inclusive environment is accepting people and things that you don’t necessarily agree with, and not shunning them under the guise of taking the moral high ground.

    4) You are suggesting getting rid of one of the most iconic traditions on campus at a time when (despite the valiant efforts of the Traditions Council, the Order
    Of the 23, and a handful of administrators) our university has become dangerously susceptible to becoming a product of the US News and World Report formula. No. No. No. A perfect case study already exists on this very idea. A decade ago, we had an organically grown and successful student section that brought the ruckus to every basketball game. When well intentioned administrators intervened to “help” make it bigger and better, it lost its effectiveness and membership. Now, we are lucky if more than a few students show up for a big game, much less cheer for our teams. Let the traditions live and grow. Don’t kill it, or your “new tradition” will be on life support from the moment it is conceived.

    Perhaps we should find ways to help the facilities staff clean up the toilet paper. If we aren’t already, maybe we use 100% recycled toilet paper. But your proposition here seems like the equivalent of cutting your toenails with a chainsaw, and that’s definitely not how I learned to solve problems at Wake Forest.

  • ATL

    I wonder if they have the same conversation at Auburn after Toomer’s corner gets rolled.

  • Dan Connors

    Any article that uses the word ‘espouse’ in the title (and twice more) should have no business proposing ‘fun alternatives’.

    I remember first touring the campus after a win and seeing the quad freshly rolled. As silly as it may sound, It made that campus tour stick out from others and showed me that the school didn’t take itself so serious (and let students do fun, goofy things that bond them together). Let the kids have their dorky fun.

  • Lloyd Nault

    Total nonsense, Professors Rogan and Llewellyn. Perhaps you should take this “moral virtue” elsewhere.

  • brad stevens

    u r such a geed , geet a life rogan (looser)

  • John

    I hope the university finds a way to kindly push these 2 professors out the door.

  • Rumplestiltskin

    Sounds like rolling the quad actually leads to job creation for additional groundskeeping staff

    • J

      I hope we have a better imagination for jobs than making a big mess just to pay someone a non living wage to pick it up…..

  • Mark

    Let’s shelf this and post it as an April Fools article, where it belongs.

  • Blake Rutledge

    Why does the title of this piece express the exact opposite idea of its argument?

    • Godeacs

      Agreed. Is this satire? Espouse means “to support”…

  • Dean Shore

    Recently, we’ve had a student shot on Polo Road and a student shot and killed on campus. I think there are a few more important issues Wake needs to address at this time.