As the discussion continues on the difference between soap versus alcohol sanitizers, Keene State College students and faculty members have expressed more of an importance on general hygiene rather than one hand washing product over another.

To fight germs within the residential halls, KSC’s office of Residential Life has used the installation of Purell dispensers in common bathrooms.

However, Res Life has also expressed importance in students providing their own bathroom washing materials.

Jim Carley, who serves a variety of different roles on campus, is also the associate director for facilities and business operations in the Residential Life offices, said, “The expectation that we have — and what we tell students when they get here — is that you’re expected to supply your own washing and drying materials when you use the restrooms here.” Carley added, in residence halls with common bathrooms like Randall Hall, “There is a Purell dispenser, but we do not provide soap and paper towels. That’s pretty much the same for all of them [residence hall bathrooms].“

Purell hand sanitizer is not a soap—it is an alcohol sanitizer, originally created mainly for doctors and restaurant owners to quickly kill germs, according to the hand sanitizer brand’s official site.

Erin D’Aleo / Graphics Editor

Erin D’Aleo / Graphics Editor

According to the Purell company, the sanitizer kills more than 99 percent of germs when applied. However, it is not meant to be sole protector of hygiene, according to Carley and the FDA. The FDA similarly noted that hand sanitizers can be used when no water is present, but that people should wash their hands with warm soapy water.

KSC senior James Murray, who had previously lived in Owls Nest and other residential halls on campus, stated he thinks soap should be provided in the residential bathrooms.

“I think, by not providing soap, we’re probably promoting the spread of germs and sickness due to a small proportion of lazy individuals infecting the rest,” he said.

Murray explained that he has always favored soap over sanitizers when washing his hands as it is, “less abrasive.”

Carley, who acknowledged that soap is more powerful and a better choice than sanitizer said, “I do often get questions as to why we don’t put soap and paper towels in the bathrooms across campus, in terms of the residence halls. We’ve done studies on this a couple of years ago. The cost is somewhere between fifty and a hundred dollars a semester that would have to be added on to the room rate. It’s just not worth it for students to have to spend that kind of money, when we know that they have the ability to provide soap and towels.”

Despite the cost increase, Josh White, a KSC student currently housed in Fiske, said he would not mind paying more for soap instead of sanitizer. When describing his Fiske bathroom, White said, “There’s really not much [cleaning supplies].” White, who shares a common bathroom with residents on his floor, explained there was a Purell dispenser in the bathroom, and that he had occasionally seen paper towels.

White said he was not sure if the paper towels were provided or left at the sink, but later added, “I think it [the common bathroom] could be better stocked with soap and possibly a hand dryer.”

Purell dispensers are provided in a number of residential bathrooms on campus, according to Carley.

However, Carley indicated, “Purell is not soap. I think basically, all it does is kill germs. You certainly wouldn’t use Purell if you got your hands all muddy or you’ve been working on your car or something like that. That’s not what it is for. It’s more for if you’re over at the DC [Zorn Dining Commons] where you’re going to put your hand on something that thousands of other people have put their hands on. “

“One of the things that the college tries to do is to make sure there’s something there for students and for staff. Outside of the public restrooms, where we do have a soap dispenser and paper towels — and the bathrooms in the student center have those hand dryers — we try to put something out there in case the students can’t go and wash their hands,” Carley said. “If I was to use the bathroom, I would wash my hands with soap and water, I would not look for the Purell dispenser,” Carley stated.


Pam Bump can be contacted at

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