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La Pirogue’s healthy finances could allow for continued production despite university’s elimination of fee

March 9, 2017

While the university has decided to eliminate the $10 assessed fee that funds the La Pirogue Yearbook, the organization has enough cash on hand to continue to produce a yearbook for several more years.
According to budget documents, the La Pirogue account had a balance of $498,807.87 as of February 22.

Lynn Gillette, vice president of academic affairs, said the university will use funds collected this year to pay all costs associated with the book currently in production. These costs include printing, student salaries, a portion of the adviser’s salary, and other related expenses.

La Pirogue Editor Hollyn Millet said that she projects to publish and distribute the 2017 issue in October. According to the administration, the students who work on the yearbook staff will be paid until the yearbook has been published.

In an article in the Nicholls Worth earlier this week, Gilette was quoted saying he would be supportive of the yearbook considering other business models in order to continue production without collection of the $10 fee. However, the university has also chosen not to rebid the yearbook, currently printed by Balfour Publishing, for the next bid period covering the 2018, 2019 and 2020 yearbooks.

According to La Pirogue budget information, yearbook publishing costs varied from $32,335.11 in 2014 to $28,690 in 2016. The rough estimated payroll cost until this year’s publication is complete is around $60,000, which will be split between the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 fiscal year budgets. Other expenses listed on the yearbook budget include office supplies and postage, equipment, membership and travel expenses.

Nicholls administration has made it clear on multiple occasions that, once the 2017 yearbook is complete, remaining money in the La Pirogue account will be moved into the university’s general operating account. The money would be then used at the discretion of Bruce Murphy, university president.

Some students are upset, however, because the money in the La Pirogue account was collected specifically for the publication of their yearbook.

“The most frustrating part about this ordeal is that the money we paid to have a yearbook will now be used for whatever the administration sees fit,” Chelsea Jackson, mass communication major from Kenner said. “The administration never asked our opinions when they decided to defund the yearbook, and I doubt they’ll ask our opinions on how to spend our yearbook fee.”

Unlike the fees that fund other student media on campus, the yearbook fee was not a student self-assessed fee. At the time of its creation in 1948, self-assessed fees did not exist yet. Despite this fact, the records of correspondences from 1949 between Charles C. Elkins, dean of Francis T. Nicholls Junior College, and S. A. Caldwell, dean of junior division and coordinator of junior college, indicate that the establishment of the fee was a resolution based on the student body’s interest on having a yearbook.

Student self-assessed fees cannot be changed or eliminated without a vote of the student body. Because the yearbook fee is considered a university-assessed registration fee, the administration has the authority to change or eliminate it without going before the students.

The SGA announced the creation of a joint-committee composed of members from SGA and Student Publications during the SGA meeting Monday. After its establishment, the committee will assess students’ interest in continuing with a print yearbook and discuss possible alternatives to try to save the publication.

“The first task of the committee will be to try and save the money that it is in the account of the yearbook,” Austin Wendt, vice president of SGA, said.

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