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Celebrating Wake Forest wins: toilet paper tradition

December 14, 2006

Enthusiasm for athletic victories at Wake Forest University can be measured by the toilet paper in the trees.  Wake Forest students, alumni and other fans celebrate game wins by “rolling the quad,” covering the center of campus with streamers of white tissue. 

"Rolling the quad started on this campus, and was in practice as early as 1961, which was when I arrived,” said Ed Hendricks, professor of history at Wake Forest.

The tradition, while popular with Wake Forest fans of all ages, began mostly because of the 172-year-old university’s 1956 move from the town of Wake Forest, N.C., to Winston-Salem. 

"On the old campus, students used to ring the bell in Wait Hall, an administration building,” Hendricks said.  “There was a bell pull that anyone could access, including students,” Hendricks said.  “When the university moved here, there were bells in Wait Chapel but no bell pull.  Students had to find a new way to celebrate.”

Prior to Wake Forest’s move, students at R.J. Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem had been rolling the trees on their campus to celebrate victories. 

 “We can safely say that Wake Forest students adopted the tradition from students at R.J. Reynolds High School,” Hendricks said.  “This was probably reinforced by

Reynolds High School graduates bringing the tradition with them when they enrolled at Wake Forest.” 

At first, students were the primary rollers, but as the tradition became more firmly established, alumni and their families also raced to Hearn Plaza (the quad) to be among the first to drape the trees in white.  Following Wake Forest’s win over Georgia Tech for the 2006 ACC football championship, hundreds of fans turned out to completely cover the lawn and trees with toilet paper.  

Demon Deacon fans regularly honor the football and basketball teams this way, but have also celebrated wins in other sports, including field hockey.

On occasion, rolling the quad has been a way to celebrate non-athletic successes.  Following the 2000 presidential debate between George W. Bush and Al Gore in Wake Forest’s Wait Chapel, students, faculty, staff and others rolled the quad with red, white and blue streamers.  Wake Forest’s math club rolled the quad in celebration of Wake Forest students winning the Mathematical Contest in Modeling, an international math contest, in 2000, 2001 and 2002.  

Most fans bring their own toilet paper to the quad after victories, but Facilities Management staff said that, evidently, some students also take rolls out of the bathrooms in the residence halls.

Facilities Management staff normally stock the bathrooms before the weekends, but not for rolling purposes.  Of course, most games are on the weekends and quite often they have to restock the bathrooms on Mondays.

The university cannot calculate the amount of toilet paper used to roll the quad, but one thing is for sure:  big wins mean more toilet paper.  So, if Wake Forest wins the FedEx Orange Bowl Jan. 2, the trees on the quad are likely to be covered in white.

Press Contacts:

Maggie Barrett
(336) 758-5237

Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237

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