Hundreds of Grassburrs left to collect dust each year

By Jasmine Sullivan—

The Grassburr is one of Tarleton’s many long-standing traditions and has been in existence for nearly 100 years. But records show that, even though each student pays $25 for a copy each spring in his or her tuition, less than half pick up that copy, leaving hundreds of books to collect dust and thousands of dollars flying out the window.

Records released under the Texas Public Information Act show that in 2012 there were 4,200 copies of the Grassburr printed with 2,720 being distributed as of Nov. 7, 2013. For the 2013 Grassburr, there were 3,000 books printed with 2,275 copies being distributed as of Nov. 7, 2013.

The total cost to print the 2012 yearbook was $102,000, $14,403.62 of which was paid to the student staff to create the yearbook. In 2013, the total cost to print was $85,800, with $23,506.40 being paid to the student staff.

Chrissie LeBlanc, a 21-year old computer information systems major, said she thinks students should be able to decide whether to pay for it.

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Though all students pay a yearly fee for their yearbook, only 45 percent ever pick them up.
( Courtesy photo by Sarah Farwell)

“I think the yearbook should be voluntary, and that we should be able to choose if we want to buy it or not,” she said.

Caleb Chapman, director of Student Publications, said, “To distribute to 45 percent of the student body, in my opinion, is phenomenal. In reality, we are never going to reach 100 percent.” Chapman is basing his 45 percent distribution rate off of the spring 2012 Stephenville undergraduate numbers.

Chapman said Student Publications tries to hit every possible communication channel, but there will still “be people who don’t get the message.”

“We send an email out about the books, and try to blast on social media as much as possible, but that only reaches a specific audience,” he said.

Kati George, a 19-year old nursing major, said she thinks there isn’t enough advertising about the publication.

“They need to really advertise the fact that the yearbook is already paid for in advance,” she said. “I think it would also help that if each person living in a dorm could get their yearbook directly delivered to their room.”

“I still think colleges should have a yearbook,” Chapman said. “The 45 percent distribution rate shows that people still want that tangible piece of memory. It is also the university’s only print publication, and without that, we are totally dependent on the Internet servers, and all of that could essentially be lost.”

So what happens to all those left over Grassburrs? Some stay in the Student Publication Office while others are recycled. For the 2012 edition, 616 copies remain in the Student Publication office, and 864 of them were recycled. As for the 2013 book, there are 575 copies left.

The Grassburr is available to pick up all year-round, starting around the time of Homecoming Week. It is still possible for students to pick up their yearbooks from last year if they have not already.

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