Rolling the quad is one of Wake Forest’s most important and visible traditions. Since the 1950s, students have been rolling the quad to celebrate marquee wins, ACC and National Championships, and beating some of our most fierce rivals like UNC, Duke and NC State.
The tradition is very unique and brings the students on our diverse campus together. It is a simple celebration that any Wake Forest fan can perform by snagging a roll of toilet paper and arriving on the quad. It connects alumni and current students and has turned into one of the most pleasant and positive sights to see for anyone connected to Wake Forest University.
Seeing the quad rolled elicits a sense of pride for Wake Forest students and alumni. We think that environmental impacts should have a bearing on continuing campus traditions, but we do not feel that there is a significant environmental impact caused by this tradition for two reasons: the toilet paper used across campus is biodegradable and rolling the quad does not happen after every win. Thus, rolling the quad only occurs about two or three times each semester. Compare this statistic to Auburn’s “Rolling the Corner” to see a larger area of land being rolled after almost every Auburn football, basketball, baseball, and soccer win, which tolls to about thirty times each semester.
We have given some thought to the potential environmental impacts of this tradition, in addition to researching an article on this topic written by the university’s Office of Sustainability. This article shows how low the environmental impact is of this beloved tradition.
There are many practices on campus that are far more wasteful and harmful to the environment, such as the amount of food waste generated in the Pit, the amount of printed materials required for the average class and the University’s shuttle system, which is not green transportation and is very harmful to our carbon footprint. The toilet paper blows in the wind in pride for a few days, and then is often cleaned up by facilities.
Because most of the toilet paper is biodegradable, this environmental issue is not nearly as damaging as other campus-wide practices that are listed above.
We believe that this tradition should never end. It will always hold a special place in the hearts of past, present, and future Wake Forest students. It is many students’ favorite campus tradition and will never truly be replaced, even if someone were to come up with another idea. Rolling the quad is simply that special.
While we do not want to see this tradition replaced, there could be some helpful implementations which would make it an environmentally-better tradition. To take you back to our Auburn example, the following morning students and facilities help remove the toilet paper from the limbs of the trees.
Instead of allowing the toilet paper to stay on the trees for many following days or just have facilities clean it all up, perhaps we could enact a system where students, faculty, fans and facility team members take the toilet paper off the following day as they walk by the quad.
Perhaps this would instill feelings of respect and significance towards both our environment and this beloved tradition.
Ben Weekley (18’), Forest Richardson (18’), Andrew Kennedy (18’), and Ellie Caldwell (19’)
Traditions Council Co-Chairs