'The toilet paper feels like sandpaper': Utah 4th grader's petition starts at the bottom

Jacob Paulson poses for a picture with an industrial-sized roll of two-ply toilet paper and a letter from a school district official.

Jacob Paulson poses for a picture with an industrial-sized roll of two-ply toilet paper and a letter from a school district official. (Kristin Paulson)

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Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

HOLLADAY — Some say that change comes from the top, but a fourth grader from Cottonwood Elementary brought it all the way from the bottom.

In a letter written to the Granite School District, fourth grade student Jacob Paulson asked district officials to provide students with toilet paper that didn't feel "like sandpaper" and didn't get "poop on your fingernails."

According to Jacob's teacher Kayla Williams, the letter was not an assignment.

"Jacob had been talking about how much he hated the toilet paper, and the whole class agreed with him!" Williams said. "We talked about some of the possible logistics of why it might be a cheaper option as a class, but Jacob was persistent that it was the worst.

"We then talked (about how) the only way people can know that we are upset is if we tell them and have a conversation about it. I told him he could write a letter about it, and promised that I would make sure it got to the people who made the decisions. He came to school the next day with his toilet paper letter, and then I worked with our principal to make sure it got to the district."

That letter did get to the district, and it outlined Jacob's two main reasons why "kids at elementary schools don't like the toilet paper at their schools" — while also offering a solution.

"If you don't want to spend your money on kids' bums, I request to let kids bring their own soft toilet paper to school," Jacob wrote.

Not only was Jacob's letter received by district officials, but it was met with a response this past week from the district's director of purchasing/warehouse, Jared Gardner, along with a roll of 2-ply toilet paper.

Gardner thanked Jacob for his letter while also outlining reasons for the subpar TP. Gardner explained that there wasn't much that could be done about the "sandpaper" feel because schools use industrial paper, while also adding that this is a "common issue in nearly all public restrooms."

Gardner addressed Jacob's concern about the thin consistency, offering him hope for the possibility of providing the school with a two-ply option if the school administration agreed to order this type of toilet paper.

And while Gardner didn't discourage Jacob from bringing his own toilet paper, it came with a caveat.

"I have good news for you, Jacob: there's no district policy that will prohibit you from bringing your own toilet paper," Gardner wrote. "That said, flushable toilet wipes are not allowed as we have found that they are not very flushable, and they clog sewer pipes which is a messy and stinky problem for our custodians and maintenance employees."

The letter, along with an industrial-sized roll of two-ply TP, was awarded to Jacob in his classroom, and he was met with loud cheers from his classmates. Pictures and a video were shared on the Granite School District's Facebook page, with commenters calling him a hero and a legend.

KSL.com connected with Jacob's mother Kristen Paulson via text message, who said that her son is hopeful that his principal will decide to put two-ply toilet paper in all the Cottonwood Elementary School bathrooms.


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Arianne Brown is a breaking news reporter for KSL.com. She also enjoys finding and sharing stories of everyday Utahns, a talent she developed over several years of freelance writing for various Utah news outlets.


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