Some things about a college experience, no matter what school you attend, are going to be the same: studying late into the night, throwing a frisbee out on the quad and eating cheap take out. What sets schools apart from each other is an institution’s traditions. Wake Forest has the most unique and lovable traditions (which we gladly admit is a biased opinion).
Communications professors Randall Rogan and John Llewellyn submitted a Letter to the Editor pointing out the disparities between the tradition of rolling the quad and the university’s moral values, as well as offering new alternatives. While they raised some worthwhile points, the Editorial Staff of the Old Gold & Black believes that rolling the quad should remain a beloved — and untouched — Wake Forest tradition.
In citing environmental and humane concerns, professors Rogan and Llewellyn clearly failed to do research, something they surely make their students do. The Office of Sustainability addresses environmental concerns behind the tradition on their website’s FAQ page.
As for the humane concern, the professors believe that it is “elitist” to have the landscaping staff remove the toilet paper from the trees. If professors Rogan and Llewellyn have ever enjoyed a beautiful walk on the quad in the days following a major sports win, they would notice a majority of the toilet paper already on the ground. The toilet paper almost immediately disintegrates; landscaping staff only blow the toilet paper on the ground as they do leaves.
Rolling the quad is, of course, a wasteful practice. There are plenty of people who need toilet paper but can’t afford it. Toilet paper is commonly listed as one of the top requested items at shelters. The Editorial Staff proposes that the university, for every time a sports team wins and the quad is rolled, donates an amount of toilet paper comparable to what’s on the quad to local shelters and charities.
Rogan and Llewellyn also posit that this falsely purported removal of the toilet paper can cause unintended damage to a tree, making it vulnerable to disease.
The Office of Sustainability noted that the White Ash trees on the quad have fallen ill and have been replaced in recent year. However, the Landscaping Services staff and University Arborist have confirmed that this was not due to the rolling of the quad.
According to the Office of Sustainability, the toilet paper that students use has a high recycled content and is quickly biodegradable.
Furthermore, the alternative proposed by professors Rogan and Llewellyn, rolling the quad in large bubble balls, is ridiculous and impractical. The university would have to find a way to provide sufficient bubble balls, house and care for the balls and regulate their use.
Traditions are meant to remain the same. For students, collegiate traditions can make these four years truly memorable. Demon Deacons will always remember the first time they rolled the quad during freshman orientation. It makes us feel connected to the history, to the future and to the community of Wake Forest. Rolling the quad promotes our institution’s most espoused value: bringing students together.