Archive for Thursday, November 10, 2011

Heard on the Hill: Student newspaper tackles toilet paper issue; nearby university begins new fundraising push; provost signs international open access declaration

November 10, 2011, 12:30 a.m. Updated November 10, 2011, 8:09 a.m.


Your daily dose of news, notes and links from around Kansas University.

• I get a lot of story ideas and suggestions every day. My brain is always chewing through that information and trying to look at old stuff in new ways to generate ideas for what to write about next.

But the University Daily Kansan this week managed to write about something that was never even a blip on my radar screen — the one-ply toilet paper on campus.

(Complete with this rather whimsical visual representation).

I have no idea how this idea got started, but I suspect it was something that one or more students noticed and got curious about why things were that way. And I’d bet they weren’t the only ones, either.

As Joe Posnanski, one of my favorite writers out there, has said, that’s one of the coolest parts about this job. If you get curious about something, you can just pick up the phone and ask the person who’s calling the shots.

In this case, that person was apparently Steve Green, the guy who orders the toilet paper. It is indeed single-ply and costs precisely $61,804 per year, the Kansan reports.

Well why don’t we use two-ply paper? It obviously costs more, but also, Green said, it may require new dispensers and “may not supply enough paper to last between restroom cleanings in the larger KU classroom buildings,” though I admit I’m a little unsure about that last part.

UPDATE: I heard this morning from Green, who orders this stuff, and he clarified for me. The one-ply rolls come with 1,500 sheets per roll, while the two-ply rolls on the state contract were 500 or 550 sheets per roll. As crews only service the restrooms once per day, he said, they may run out in some of those high-traffic areas if they made the switch.

The Kansan also apparently staged some kind of toilet paper test (Note to my editor: if you make me do this, I’m quitting) and found that Pittsburg State’s toilet paper was better, although a little more expensive.

Michael Garofalo, a junior from Libertyville, Ill., had this to say about the whole affair.

“I think the answer is clear. The toilet paper from Pitt State is more durable and I would pay a dollar extra to have this type of toilet paper,” he said. “I use a lot of toilet paper when I’m in there.”

So there you have it.

• The University of Missouri-Kansas City recently announced it had begun a $250 million fundraising campaign, the Kansas City Star reports.

The seven-year effort, which began two years ago will end in 2016.

KU has been in the quiet phase of a comprehensive fundraising campaign for a couple years now, too. They haven’t yet announced the goal for “Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas,” but it’s a poorly kept secret at this point that the campaign will aim to raise more than $1 billion for KU scholarships, professorships, capital projects and other areas. We’ll know for sure when the campaign has its public kickoff next spring.

• KU Provost Jeff Vitter was a new signatory on the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge, reports the website

“New signatory and Kansas University Provost Jeffrey S. Vitter emphasizes the university has been a leader in the Open Access movement as the first public institution in the United States to adopt a faculty-wide open-access policy,” the website said. “’Signing the Berlin Declaration is another step forward in this effort, and we are pleased to join the many fine institutions that are also committed to Open Access to scholarly research,’ said Vitter, who is also speaking as part of this week's conference.”

KU has been one of the early adopters of the open access movement, which seeks to make faculty research available to all, outside the bounds of academic journals and their copyright claims.

Here’s who’s signed so far.

• If you have a tip for Heard on the Hill, please write it on a square of toilet paper, and send it c/o Andy Hyland, 645 New Hampshire St., Lawrence, KS, 66045. Or you can just email it to


erck85 6 years, 6 months ago

I believe an article on the toilet paper "issue" was written several years ago.

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