Toilet paper, markers and more: K-State Custodial Services, by the numbers

(Graphic by Audrey Hockersmith)

It takes a lot of supplies to keep an institution as large as Kansas State running day-to-day. Some of those supplies, typically the most essential ones, go unnoticed until the moment they are needed.

The university’s Custodial Services in the Division of Facilities keeps tabs on all of the supplies needed by over 75 of academic buildings on campus, which “contain almost 2.5 million square feet of floor space … made up of classrooms, offices, laboratories, arenas, restrooms, libraries, corridors, theaters, service and delivery areas and mechanical spaces.”

According to their website, Custodial Services has over 100 permanent employees as well as several student and temporary employees throughout the year.

Custodial supervisors make note of what supplies need to be ordered and relay that information to the Division of Facilities, which makes weekly supply orders.

“The supervisor has to keep watch,” Terri Wyrick, senior administrative assistant for Custodial Services, said in an email interview. “Sometimes there might be a rush on toilet paper, and we might not ever know the cause. Once, when I first started working here, a bunch of toilet paper was being used at one of the complexes. That was right before Halloween. Lots of trees were hung with it that year. Each supervisor keeps so much in stock so we don’t run out. They are to keep two weeks’ worth.”

In September 2016, Custodial Services ordered 236 cases of toilet paper, which at 12 rolls per case, amounts to 2,832 rolls for the month. That’s about 94 rolls of toilet paper per day. Wyrick said September’s numbers are typical of the university’s usage of materials.

Custodial Services also ordered 267 cases of hand towels, or 3,204 rolls — about 107 per day.

Restroom items ordered in September include 158 batteries for hand towel dispensers and 80 cases of soap. Other custodial items ordered were 100 masks, 176 boxes of gloves, 186 cases of cleaning chemicals, nine bottles of stain remover, six bottles of gum remover and 11 bottles of hardwood floor care chemicals.

For classrooms, Custodial Services supplied 120 boxes of chalk, 59 white board erasers and 19 bottles of whiteboard cleaner. Wyrick said the they only supply white chalk for instructor use.

Some students and professors said the university should do more to fund supplies, such as dry erase markers.

“It’s really bad when I don’t have markers,” Shireen Roshanravan, associate professor of American ethnic studies, said. “The ones that are in the classroom, if they’re there, are almost running out of ink. I write a lot on the board. I have to dip into my own funds to have a constant supply of dry erase board markers.”

Wendy Matlock, associate professor of English, said using the white boards help make the ideas she teaches more “concrete.”

“The markers make the ideas concrete so we can come back to them,” Matlock said. “You write something on the board, and it’s fixed in a visual way, whereas most of what we do in discussion is auditory. That gives us a focal point.”

Kristen Krueger, sophomore in family studies and human services, said the use of chalk and white boards help her understand concepts in class.

“In certain classes, like in Spanish, not knowing how to spell certain words can be bad because they didn’t have markers to write them on the board,” Krueger said. “The university should do more to provide markers for classrooms.”

I'm Rafael Garcia, and I'm a 2019 K-State graduate in journalism and former editor-in-chief of the K-State Collegian. I believe that much of the world's problems come from a lack of understanding of other people, but by telling other people's stories and finding the good in the world, I think we can increase our understanding and appreciation of each other. Questions, comments, concerns, news tips? Email the Collegian team at