UCSB’s La Cumbre yearbook will publish its 91st and final edition this year after losing its reaffirmation and proposed new fee during last month’s Spring elections.
The election results saw a 39 percent voter turnout and indicated that only 39.4 percent of voters were in favor of reaffirming the publication’s current funding, while 82.6 percent opposed its new lock-in fee. The publication is unable to pay its student staff or cover administrative costs without financial support and will cease publishing prior to the 2011-12 academic year.
According to Storke Student Publications Manager Linda Meyer, the funding cuts mark the end of an important memento for undergraduates’ collegiate experiences.
“Right now you can go to the Mosher Alumni House, or the library, where there are documents of history of things that happened at UCSB throughout the years,” Meyer said. “We know what happened that year from the students’ perspective — what the Greek system was like, how sports were doing and Halloween.”
Meyer said the slash will negatively impact current and future university students and faculty.
“The staff at the yearbook is dedicated to capturing the students, events, sports, clubs, academics and anything that is particularly unique for that year,” Meyer said. “To not have that documented from the students’ perspective would be a great loss for the university community. I have spoken with a few [of the staff] who feel disappointed and sad about the loss of historical preservation.”
In addition to the yearbook, La Cumbre photographed a record 1,100 seniors this year. Meyer said the university may also discontinue that program without the student-approved funding.
“We’ve had a photographer come to campus six weeks a year to get your senior portrait taken, but now that service will be unavailable because we can’t put it in a yearbook,” Meyer said. “The service of senior photos on campus might disappear.”
According to La Cumbre Editor in Chief William Chen, a third-year cultural anthropology major, the association did not expect the student body to withhold the fees.
“We have been telling the seniors who take their portraits and a lot of them are genuinely surprised that the yearbook is ending,” Chen said. “I’m disappointed that maybe we didn’t spread the word enough. I’m surprised because I thought that people would appreciate a book dedicated to their time here at UCSB. We try to cover the year as best as we can for the students.”
However, third-year psychology major Kate Ward said the vote accurately reflected campus opinion of the institute’s importance.
“I wasn’t surprised when the fee got voted down,” Ward said. “I feel that most students here weren’t going to buy a yearbook for graduation anyway, so not too many people are disappointed.”
Despite the current financial strains, Chen said the organization’s staff will continue to seek alternative sources of funding to prevent the institute’s closure and maintain their services.
“We are most definitely going to try and be put on the ballot next year so that we might be able to bring the book back the year after next, or the following years after that,” Chen said. “The yearbook has been around for 91 years, and it is sad that there won’t be one next year. It’s unfair that future classes won’t get a book, so we are working on doing something about it. Hopefully, we can garner enough interest that the yearbook will eventually be brought back.”
According to Meyer, the publication sold a yearly average of 600 to 800 issues for the past four years. She said the yearbook’s importance transcends its material worth.
“The value of the yearbook is not seen in how many books are purchased,” Meyer said. “The value is capturing the university as a community and not from an individual perspective. I think it is a mistake to not have an historical record of each year from the student perspective.”
Chen said this year’s edition will expand its scope to include the organization’s entire history.
“I am planning on adding a sort of retrospective of the past 90 years of the La Cumbre history,” Chen said. “We hope that people know that this is the last yearbook and hopefully they get the chance to purchase one.”
Meyer said future projects would take into account the shifting preferences of the university’s demographics.
“I am working on creating some product that will resonate with today’s students,” Meyer said. “We need to revamp the yearbook and create a product that the students see as relevant to them while keeping the intrinsic historical value of each year intact.”
Students can purchase the yearbook on the La Cumbre website. The organization will ship orders in September.