SGA Debates Future of Yearbook

The Shen, EMU’s yearbook, has been a part of the student milieu for longer than any current student (or student’s parents) can remember. Because of this tradition, even after multiple years of lagging yearbook interest, SGA members met the proposal to completely abandon the Shen with concern. SGA Co-Presidents, Seniors Christine Baer and Andrew Penner, contacted Balfour, a yearbook-advising company, to assist in the future production of EMU’s yearbook. The company, gave a full-length presentation to SGA and offered three choices for book-purchases that would prove divisive: the 300 choice, buying yearbooks for the Seniors; the 600 choice, buying yearbooks for upperclassmen while underclassmen would have to buy their yearbooks; and the 900 choice, buying yearbooks for all of Undergraduate students.

The price of yearbooks in addition to the base number of 300, 600, or 900 would depend on how many were initially agreed upon; an extra yearbook purchased on top of the 300 option would be substantially more expensive than one bought in addition to 900.

Penner initially argued for the 300 option, to only provide free yearbooks to Seniors, similar to the past few years of yearbook distribution to test out Balfour and salvage the rest of the school year. However, other members of SGA rallied hard for all students to receive yearbooks, asking how excitement would be mustered without widespread interaction with the new and improved yearbook. After a long conversation around a technology allowance, advisors, and no student interest in compiling the yearbook, an inchoate motion was proposed for the 300-yearbook option. This was struck down by a narrow margin, to be substituted by a motion for the 900-yearbook option. After a terse vote count, the motion passed for SGA to spend its entire semester budget (plus rollover from past years) to give every undergraduate a completely revamped yearbook.

The hesitant jubilation was short-lived, as the Co-Presidents vetoed the SGA decision. Christine Baer explains her decision: “The function of the Presidents of SGA is to ensure that Senate has adequate information in order to make informed decision about allocating funds. And after [that] Senate meeting, Andrew and I felt that the meeting was hectic [and] didn’t have adequate information. We decided to veto it because we weren’t comfortable with how our meeting ended.” At the next meeting, SGA agreed to compromise with the 600-yearbook decision, which will provide Seniors with free yearbooks, and other undergrads with free books on a first-come, first-serve basis. SGA also decided to change the purchasing program for all Undergraduates from an opt-in choice to an opt-out; instead of making an effort to sign up for a yearbook, students will have to make an effort to not commit to buying a yearbook at the beginning of the year.

As for Balfour’s future work, alongside newly instated consultant, Mary Stickler, Baer concludes with her hope that “the yearbook becomes an element of campus that really captures EMU in that year accurately.”

-Kate Swartz is writing from the position of SGA secretary.

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