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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Archon funding questioned

Published: February 10, 2006
Section: News

Student Union leaders have been evaluating the funding of Archon, the Brandeis University yearbook, due to its failure to print its class of 2005 yearbook on time, according to Union officials.

We are working with [Archon] members to determine how the Union can help assist the issues pertaining to their organization, said Union President Jenny Feinberg, who also added that there was a miscommunication between Union officers and Archon staff members, which led the Union to give the organization more time and consideration.

One of the reasons that the recent SAF amendment was not presented to the Student Union Feb. 5 as planned was that Union representatives couldnt meet with the Archon editors and discuss the yearbooks future. Under the current system, the Archon is a secured group, meaning that is it assured of a certain amount of money every year.

The Archon was only notified last week that its status as a secured group was in danger. However, Feinberg said that Archon was not the sole factor behind the SAF delay, and that the Union wanted to strongly consider the feedback we were receiving regarding our proposals and continue conversations with more club leaders, students, and administrators.

While the Union believes that further talks with the Archon are required, the university administration is fully supporting Archons continued status as a secured group. Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Student Life Rick Sawyer said that a healthy and professionally produced yearbook is vital to Brandeis. He also called proper funding a must for the Archon, as well praising the work done by the organization since it was made a secured group.

Stephanie Grimes, Director of Student Activities, also believes that the Archon should remain a part of the university. I think its challenging from a student perspective – when we see Facebook and the emergence of technology – to see the validity of a hard copy yearbook, but I see how many students come in and flip through the yearbooks that we have in our office, and I think its a part of the history of the university, said Grimes. The administration, and particularly Student Activities, feels very strongly about the connection [with the Archon].

Assistant Dean of Student Life Alwina Bennett also expressed hope that the Union and the Archon staff would be able to come to an understanding that would keep the yearbook a secured group. She went on to explain that students pay for their yearbook by contributing to the Student Activities Fund over four years, and that the class of 06 has contributed four years worth of SAF monies and deserves a yearbook at no additional charge.

Amidst discussion of its future, the Archon is currently working on getting yearbooks to the class of 05. Current Editor-in-Chief Rebecca Gedalius 07 said the production was delayed as the result of some editors quitting during the 2004-2005 school year. Both the Archon staff and the Brandeis administration have revealed that the yearbook was significantly understaffed last year, and that this year, past editors have had to assume personal responsibility for multiple sections of the book.

Gedalius and Grimes also noted that, contrary to popular belief, graduates are not supposed to receive their yearbooks until October or November following graduation.
This allows photos and commentary from events such as Senior Week and Commencement to be included in the publication. Gedalius admits that I began to receive emails from members of the class of 2005 asking when they would receive their books. Initially, I informed them that they would receive it in the fall, as I was not aware of the extent of the delays until the fall semester was underway. However, once the situation had been fully assessed, 2005 editor Daniel Lowenstein 05 sent an e-mail to the class of 05 informing them of the delay.

The 2005 yearbook is now finished, and is in the process of being printed, according to Grimes. It will be shipped to last years graduates once the production phase, which takes place off-campus, is completed.

Although the Archon successfully finished the 2005 edition and does not expect delays in 2006, other signs belie the lack of student participation in the organization. The Archons website has not been updated since 2004, and repeated visits to the Archon Office in the Shapiro Campus Center revealed nothing more than a dark room with a locked door, despite a declaration on the Brandeis Club webpage stating that office hours are Monday thru Friday, 9-5. However, Gedalius said that she is pleased to say that this year's staff has increased over time as a result of a well-timed Facebook ad and the recent activities fair, which increased the size of the active editorial staff by more than three-fifths.

This is not the first time that the Archon has faced trouble. According to Rick Sawyer, in the 1990-1991 yearbook almost wasnt printed due to inadequate funding and lack of student volunteers. The Archon was added as a securely funded group a few years later, partly due to its earlier financial troubles.

When asked about the possibility of the Archon losing its status as a secured group, which would once again plunge the group into financial uncertainty, Stephanie Grimes responded that I think it would be a shame, because I think that it would make the organization focus on financing and fundraising when they really need to be focused on product. I think that thats one of the reasons that it was securely funded in the first place.