Q. I understand that the Rolling of the Quad is a much-loved tradition at the university, but I can’t help feeling that it is wasteful and possibly harmful to the health of the trees on Hearn Plaza. Is this practice sustainable?
A. Throwing rolls of toilet paper into the trees is certainly wasteful. On a scale of wasteful practices, however, this tradition pales in comparison to many other practices on campus. From an environmental perspective, it is relatively benign.
Though we cannot control the type of toilet paper alumni, friends, and fans bring to campus, the toilet paper used by students on campus has a high recycled content and is quickly biodegradable.
With respect to the health of the trees, you may have noticed that many of the White Ash trees on Hearn Plaza have fallen ill and been replaced in the last few years. Both the Landscaping Services staff and the University Arborist have confirmed that there is no correlation between the practice of Rolling the Quad and the death of these trees. In fact, the White Ash trees that lined Hearn Plaza fell victim to the same disease and insect vulnerability that is claiming Ash trees in other locations on campus and across the country.