Every trickle-down consequence of the economic downturn isn't completely obvious. Most of us have heard about the massive losses suffered by college endowments. We've seen departmental budgets slashed and even entire majors either watered down or eliminated. Staff has been cut, tuition, room and board charges have shot up, and fees tacked on. What's a prospective college student or parent to do?
Well, if you're headed to Texas A&M this fall, there's one simple answer to this quandary: Pack toilet paper!
Often, one of the perks of living in a dorm at college is the housekeeping, which dumps the trash, hoses down the bathroom and refills depleted toilet paper rolls in the stalls. But at Texas A&M, students in dorms may soon be responsible for having to supply their own TP.
It's all part of a cost-cutting plan by the school's Department of Student Affairs, which says the University can save $82,000 each year by cutting down on the use of gratis toilet paper.
According to the proposal, students would get some free TP at the beginning of the semester, but as soon as that supply is exhausted, it's up to the students to replenish it themselves.
Maggie Kiely at chron.com fills us in:
Elaine Benes sits in a bathroom stall, pleading with a stingy toilet-paper hoarder to "spare a square."
"Excuse me. I'm sorry. This is, a, kind-of embarrassing but there's no toilet paper over here."
"Are you talking to me?" the stranger asks.
"Yeah, I just forgot to check. So, if you could spare some."
More awkward banter.
"Three squares? You can't spare three squares?" Benes shouts.
The woman leaves after saying: "No I don't have a square to spare. I can't spare a square."
That famous scene from Seinfeld soon may be playing out thousands of times in dorm bathrooms across the Texas A&M campus.
It's come to that.
To save money, the Department of Student Affairs is considering shelving free toilet paper in the residence halls. Discussions still are under way, but it's likely that the larger dorm bathrooms — where four or more gather - will keep the necessary item in stock.
Other cost-cutting measures under consideration: Not buying new furniture for Rudder Theater, reducing student worker wages, eliminating one exhibition a year in University Arts, eliminating cell phone stipends for several staff members and reducing the amount of paper, toner and other supplies throughout the year.
The toilet paper savings would wipe away about $82,000 of the $2.2 million that Student Affairs has been charged to reduce in its operating budget for fiscal year 2012. The department's reduction plan was released Tuesday, along with almost $40 million in proposed downsizing across the campus.
Some students interviewed said the t-paper issue brings into focus how desperate the funding situation must be.
It wasn't clear late Tuesday how many rolls or what type of toilet paper the university buys annually. Under the proposal, after getting a few free rolls at the beginning of a semester, students would be on their own in purchasing the hygiene supplies.
Michael Spiegelhauer, a 20-year-old biological and agricultural engineering major from Bartlett, said the cut in bathroom supplies is "definitely going to be a major complaint for students."
Spiegelhauer lives in Fowler Residence Hall and said he receives new rolls about once a week.
"It's going to become a problem," he said.
He said he'd rather see tuition raised than have to worry about where he's going to get his TP from.
"How's he going to get TP?" asked his buddy, Daniel Overstreet. "He doesn't even have a car."
Overstreet, a 20-year old electronics, engineering and technology major from Flower Mound, said he thinks the change will result in Aggie's breaking some rules.
"It's going to make people resort to going where there is toilet paper on campus and taking it from there," said the off-campus student.
So, you can see that rough times aren't behind us yet. Well, in a way, they are (or will be) at Texas A&M.
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