Student Government limits legislation to toilet paper


Albert Lee

Illustration by Albert Lee.

Student Government’s latest move to improve student life at UT is a campaign for two-ply bath tissue on campus. And no, they are not joking.

McCombs student representatives Liam Woolley-Macmath, a supply chain management junior, and Garret Neville, a business sophomore, have authored legislation urging the University to swap out the one-ply bath tissue used in many building on campus for Georgia Pacific two-ply, which would, admittedly, increase costs. 

The legislations was supposed to be presented Tuesday to the General Assembly, though the regularly scheduled meeting was canceled via Twitter because of low attendance.

Some context: In December, Facility Services Manager Andrew Yanez told The Daily Texan that the University was making efforts to decrease bath tissue usage to reduce waste. while provide necessary supplies to campus areas based on need. Facility Services manages the bath tissue in more than 100 academic and administrative buildings on campus, though it does not manage or supply bath tissue to auxiliaries of the University, including the Division of Housing and Food Service buildings and the University Unions, neither of which is addressed by Woolley-Macmath’s legislation. Granted, even if the legislation passes, it would not force Facility Service to shell out more money for two-ply rolls, as SG resolutions are non-binding. 

In 2012, Facility Services spent $125,044 on bath tissue alone, amounting to 133,380 one-ply rolls used by students across campus. 

But Woolley-Macmath believes that UT’s academic buildings can do better than one-ply. He said the thicker bath tissue used in the unions, such as the Student Activity Center, is exactly what he would like to see throughout campus bathrooms.

“The bath tissue has been the same for years. It’s a single-ply, it’s really cheap and almost feels like a paper towel,” Woolley-Macmath said. “This seems a really silly issue to talk about, but it has been the No. 1 complaint from students for a while at McCombs.”

Woolley-Macmath made it clear to this board that this was serious legislation prompted by student complaints over what they perceived as a real tissue issue, and we believe him. But that raises a decidedly more disturbing question about UT students and their “No. 1 complaints.” Of all the issues on campus — Shared Services, tuition raises, online education, affordable housing and safety initiatives, to name only a few — students are most concerned about the adversities they’re confronting inside UT’s bathroom stalls? Really? 

Granted, legislation is only one way in which SG works for students on campus, and the organization’s many lobbying efforts outside the agency may be as important — if not more so — than the pieces of legislation they endorse. In 1969, for example, SG literally stood up against the Board of Regents to spare hundred-year-old trees from being cut down to make room for an expanded stadium. In 2006, it began work on creating the Student Activity Center, where it now holds its weekly meetings. Just last spring, it organized a march to the Texas Capitol to lobby legislators for increased funding to the University. Obviously, SG can use its position as the “official voice of students” to tackle difficult issues and come out on top. And yes, UT is better than one-ply toilet paper. But isn’t it also better than bullshit causes?