This year, Lawrence University’s senior class will be graduating without a yearbook. It was decided last spring that the yearbook would not receive funding this year. The amount requested was $42,000.
Formally named The Ariel, the Lawrence yearbook has been in existence ever since the school was established. With the exception of two years in the 70s and a slight lull in the 80s, there has been a yearbook every year. This is the first time that talk of closing down The Ariel at Lawrence appears potentially long term.
Linda Furest has been the adviser of The Ariel since 1987. She is currently the alumni volunteer coordinator, and has also worked in the admissions office.
According to Fuerst, there is no single reason as to why there will not be a yearbook this year. “It’s been a struggle with the student staff to get the funding from LUCC,” she shared. “LUCC does not think it’s a wise use of money because it is a very large chunk of money. When you’ve only had a couple students working on it and considering the price of the book, they think it’s a little exorbitant.”
Fuerst continued, “We’ve also missed deadlines and the book starts late. But the book starts late because LUCC hasn’t given us the funding and students loose interest. Last year, we didn’t get the funding right away and those students that had been a part of the yearbook had found other things to do, so we were down to three people.” Anther criticism of The Ariel was that books were not distributed to students efficiently.
The Ariel has always been a student staff. Said Fuerst, “We’ve had a staff of two to three student up to about 15, so it’s a pretty small core group of students that are interested in keeping the history of Lawrence going.”
The 2010 and 2011 books have yet to be fully distributed because funding isn’t available for them to be mailed out. Said Fuerst, “We’ve got books sitting here that rightfully belong to students that paid for them. But I have no way to get them out at this moment.”
There is also talk of potentially transitioning to a digital book. This would be cheaper and easier to produce.
Even so, many believe its shortsighted to go digital. “Students have been brought up in such a digital age,” said Fuerst, “but the two classes who didn’t get a yearbook just had their 40th reunion and had nothing to go back to. They were really disappointed that they didn’t have their books.”
“It’s a useful piece of history,” she continues. “I still get phone calls from people asking for their yearbook. People don’t realize until after they leave how important that document might be. For me, its kind of sad because it’s history. Once it’s gone, it’s gone and we don’t have it. But until I can get a core group of students who are interested in getting [the yearbook] back, my hands are tied. The students are really going to have to push for it if it’s something that they want.”
Students interested in working towards restarting The Ariel are strongly encouraged to contact Fuerst.