With many state legislatures reducing appropriations for higher education at an alarming rate, universities around the country are searching for creative ways to finance the upgrading of their crumbling physical infrastructures. Leading the way is Louisiana State University. In 2017, the World Health Organization declared that 72% of LSU’s bathrooms had achieved CODE RED status, meaning that the unhygienic conditions in these units could easily support the growth of Ebola viruses as large as a horse’s foreleg. In the words of Tedros Adhanom, WHO’s Director-General, “that’s not good. If one of those toxic bundles got loose, the entire population of the LSU campus could bleed out in a week, and the rest of the state’s residents would be wearing hazmat suits until 2050.”
Not content to sit on their germ-covered hands and wait for this epidemic to occur, LSU has become the first university in the nation to use the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform to pay for the rehabilitation of its bathrooms.
According to F. King Alexander, the school’s President, “we’re asking folks to invest in the bladders and bowels of the LSU community. A $20 donation can purchase thirty 1000-sheet rolls of toilet paper, a necessity we haven’t been able to afford since 2015. With a $50 gift we could buy three toilet seats. LSU hasn’t had a functioning toilet seat since 2012. We tried replacing them with extra-large cinnamon bagels from the cafeteria, but that was a disaster. Trust me, you don’t want to know why.
“And we definitely need new plumbing. Flushing the toilet in our bathrooms is like playing Poop Whac-A-Mole. What goes down in one bowl comes back up in another, just three stalls away. Hell, we don’t even have three bucks for duct tape to repair cracks in the urinals.”
LSU hopes to raise at least $7 million in the first year of its Kickstarter campaign, which will operate under the slogan, “Join the Stream Team.” Donors who give $100 (“Golden Club” members) will have a small, rust-resistant nameplate with their initials placed in a urinal on the campus. Those who contribute $5000 will have a bathroom stall named in their honor, which will feature the donor’s full name and hometown in platinum on the door. “We’re going first class,” says Alexander.
John Bel Edwards, Louisiana’s governor, is enthusiastic about the Stream Team initiative. “I love this school’s can-do attitude. Here’s my 50 bucks. Sign me up for a dozen mango-scented urinal cakes!”
We smell progress.