Like a nagging cold circulating around a crowded Vanderbilt basement suite, the proposal to bring liquid handsoap dispensers to Yale bathrooms is being considered this week in University budget subcommitee meetings and Provost Alison Richard, Yale’s chief academic and financial officer.
The debate about the proposal, by Freshman Class Council members Andrew Klaber ’04 and Ted Wittenstein ’04, for handsoap in student bathrooms is still contagious. Klaber and Wittenstein are optimistic about the proposal — which would cost a hefty $543,000 — but administrators are less enthusiastic about preventing the spread of disease, even as the mighty spring cold season lurks in the dark corners and damp hallways of Yale’s residential colleges.
“The job of the provost is to see if the lines of the budget conform to the needs of the University,” Wittenstein said, “and this is certainly a widespread health concern.”
The freshmen’s initial proposal concerned only the installation of soap and dispensers on Old Campus, but has grown like microbes in a Petri dish to incorporate bathrooms throughout the University. Earlier this year, it passed the FCC and Yale College Council, and has recently gained support from the Graduate and Professional Student Senate.
Richard said the proposal is still very much under consideration but expressed concern over spending over half a million dollars on handsoap. She said perhaps the money could be better spent elsewhere.
According to Wittenstein, who expects a definite decision within the next three weeks, the initiative is currently being heard in Yale’s capital management subcommittee and the operating budget management subcommittee.
“The way we see it, the issue is as alive now as it has ever been,” Klaber said.
But Klaber did acknowledge that though the soap proposal could be a matter of post-nasal drip, it is not a matter of life and death.
“In the grand scheme of things, when it comes to students receiving more money in financial aid, this doesn’t even compare,” Klaber said. “But Ted and I have pushed very hard for this.”
Klaber and Wittenstein said Kemel Dawkins, associate vice president of facilities, has agreed to speak on behalf of their cause, and the two freshmen expressed their full faith in his ability to clear the thick yellow mucus clouding the sinuses of budget deliberations.
“The cost for handsoap is very low compared with the total budget of these committees,” Wittenstein said, “and Mr. Dawkins happens to be a very influential person, so we hope for the best.”
Klaber and Wittenstein said they would be more than willing to work in any capacity with Richard and to answer any questions she might have.