The Grub

Opinion: Unimelb’s Switch to Single-Ply Shows Capitalism Has Failed

5 November 2018

At its best, market capitalism is a positive force driving change, innovation, growth and prosperity. At its worst, it’s an excuse to reduce one of the most intimate human experiences (taking a shit) to a cost-saving calculus.

While Duncan Maskell sits atop his royal throne enjoying the trademark softness of Quilton’s superior three-ply in
his ivory tower (probably), students are subjected to the inhumanity of single-ply, single-sheet sandpaper.

The University’s decision to abandon the comfort of traditional toilet tissue represents the perils of unchecked market capitalism. The desire to cut corners and save costs has replaced the imperative to provide a humane product.

The toilet should provide students with a moment of solace: an opportunity to absorb the content of the morning’s lecture or to finish readings ahead of afternoon tutorials.

Instead, going to the toilet at the University of Melbourne has become a frightful experience. The single-ply policy introduced by the University discriminates particularly against scrunchers. Scrunching represents a means of creating a fluffy tissue-y buffer between your fingers and your bum. Alas, to achieve this aegis with single-sheet requires concerted and ongoing pulling in the toilet, an arduous task. The energy expanded pulling here could be much better spent pulling other things, such as pulling your notebook out of your bag to take notes during class.

A traditional roll of toilet paper costs around 50 cents. With around 250 sheets of three-ply, that’s 0.2 cents per sheet. Whereas the University’s new single-sandpapery-shit-sheet costs $4 for a packet containing 4,000 individual sheets, or 0.1 cents a sheet. Factoring the University’s consumption of toilet paper over a standard semester, this switch represents a meagre saving of only a few hundred bucks.

Is the comfort and satisfaction of tens of thousands of students worth a few hundred bucks? Apparently not.

As a society, we must stand against the creeping shadow of unabated capitalism and the austerity it prescribes lest it engulf our lives in complete darkness, devoid of even the most fundamental human pleasures.

My heartfelt condolences extend to commencing first years at the University of Melbourne from 2019 (especially the scrunchers amongst you).

David Vadori

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