Lack of funds, student interest push yearbook off the edge

By Kaia Arthur

Facing a lack of student interest, funding shortfalls, and the absence of consistent leadership, Macalester’s yearbook, “The Mac,” will no longer publish its annual community record. The yearbook’s end follows a two-year attempt to revive the tradition of yearbooks at Macalester.Armed with a $780 budget from Macalester College Student Government (MCSG), yearbook staff members regrouped last fall to publish a second consecutive yearbook.

They encountered financial difficulties and low student interest when the staff published their first edition in more than 10 years, which recapped the 2005-2006 school year.

Most student participation in the yearbook, such as the submission of “mug shots” for each class section, came from seniors and first-years while most others were apathetic, Molly Brookfield ’09, a member of the yearbook staff in 2007, said.

“I think freshmen were used to it from high school, and seniors were more nostalgic when they were leaving,” Marlene Delgado ’09, another yearbook staff member, said.

Many seniors’ parents ordered copies or purchased yearbooks at the large sales held on family weekend last fall, Delgado said.

Despite sales to seniors and first-years, overall student interest did not rise substantially from the first edition of “The Mac,” when students pre-ordered 200 copies. The low sales numbers meant that the yearbook staff had to request additional funding from MCSG at the end of the 2007 school year to purchase the minimum number of books the publisher required to send the book to press, Vice President for Student Affairs Laurie Hamre said.

The challenges yearbook staff met last school year echoed those of the previous year when, after yearbook production had dropped off in 1994, Deborah Heller ’07 and members of the class of 2008 gathered in 2005 in an effort revive the tradition.

Before the 1993 and 1994 yearbooks, no Macalester yearbooks had been published in over twenty years, Hamre said.

The staff of roughly six students received
student government funding for the project. The idea was that the yearbook would be self-sufficient, covering printing costs by selling copies of the yearbook, Henrik Hakonsen ’09, Financial Affairs Committee chair, said.

The 200 copies students pre-ordered by the end of the 2005-2006 school year sold at $42 a copy. However, the number of pre-orders also fell short of the minimum number the publisher required to send the book to press. Extra books had to be purchased in order to print the pre-ordered copies.

In addition to the low number of orders and the purchasing of unsold yearbooks, the lack of funds was complicated by low interest in buying advertisements, according to Delgado.

In order to resolve financial difficulties, Heller submitted a request to MCSG for $5,000, Hakonsen said.

When MCSG denied the request, Hamre provided financial support for the 2005-2006 yearbooks.

“As it was the first yearbook in many years, it was more difficult than the student editors anticipated to interest students and sell copies of the books,” Hamre said.

On top of the dim financial situation in continuing publication this year, the staff faced the problem of having no replacement for Heller, who graduated in the spring. Staff member Alexandra Cortes ’08 had been “groomed for the position,” according to Delgado, but is abroad this fall, leaving the yearbook staff without a leader.

“In its current form, it had to be canceled,” Brookfield said. “I’m disappointed that people didn’t see the value in it and that it just represented high school and the establishment, being generic and bland. Maybe with more student input, people could’ve made something they wanted.”

“It has always amazed me at how the community feeling of the campus can be captured on pages of a book,” Hamre said.

For Hamre, a yearbook also facilitates current and future students’ ability to connect with the past classes of Macalester.

“I believe it will prove to be a ‘memory’ loss for the campus community,” she said.