University of Connecticut students did not approve a fee increase proposed on the 2017 joint elections ballot of $2 per semester, or $4 per year, for student organization Nutmeg Publishing.
Nutmeg Publishing generates the UConn yearbook in addition to a quarterly magazine. The student fee associated with the organization is $3 per semester, which totals to $6 per year; they asked for an increase to $5 per semester, or $10 per year, on the 2017 joint elections ballot.
“In this year’s elections, exactly 18,695 students voted in the elections yet only 4,413 students actually voted for Nutmeg Publishing’s fee increase vote,” Nutmeg Publishing business manager Lindsey Rodrigues said. “The results were that 1,932 students voted ‘Yes’ (44 percent) and 2,481 students voted ‘No’ (56 percent). That means that the results that Nutmeg received is only representative of 23 percent of the voting population.”
Rodrigues said that factors such as escalating publication costs and UConn’s growing student population led the organization to request a fee increase.
“The need for an increase in fees is a result of the surge of enrollment and the rise in publication costs over the past decade that has not matched the amount of fee money Nutmeg receives,” Rodrigues said. “Additionally, inflation has an influence. Nutmeg is set to be at a $48,228.19 deficit by fiscal year 2019, which means that there is enough money to produce a 2017 yearbook and possibly a 2018 yearbook, but the extinction of the 2019 yearbook looks like our future.”
Amy Bortey, Nutmeg Publishing editor-in-chief, said that this year’s ballot proposition results motivated the organization to continue their work to connect with students.
“We’re disappointed because we made a great effort putting our name out there. The results show we have a lot more work to do,” Bortey said. “It’s not necessarily that people don’t want a yearbook; but we also do believe that there’s a communication gap—that people aren’t aware of Nutmeg Publishing and the yearbook… Students probably saw it (the proposed fee increase) on the ballot and thought, ‘I just don’t want a fee increase.’”
Nutmeg Publishing conducted outreach to students in many ways throughout this year’s joint elections, Rodrigues said.
“We reached out to many students during this election cycle, posting immense amounts of fliers, having a high social media presence and giving out promotional items with our logo on it, sharing with the student body what we do on campus and why we think we should keep the tradition of the UConn yearbook going,” Rodrigues said.
The organization will carry on creating the yearbook and quarterly magazine for as long as possible, Rodrigues said.
“Our organization is a bit disappointed about the results but Nutmeg Publishing is resilient and even more encouraged to do our best work for the UConn yearbook and magazine,” Rodrigues said. “Nutmeg strives for the best and we will continue to publish the best of UConn's events and traditions in the yearbook and magazine as long as we can. We thank the UConn community for the support of our organization and we hope to continue to be a prominent pillar in UConn's history.”
Bortey said that students did not approve fee increases for Nutmeg Publishing proposed during the Spring 2014 and Spring 2016 joint elections. She added that in 2014, 46 percent said “Yes” and 54 percent said “No.” In 2016, 43 percent of students who voted on the proposed fee increase said “Yes” and 57 percent said “No.”
“I understand how students don’t really see a value for yearbooks at this moment in time and might think it’s irrelevant since we go to a large university, so they might feel disconnected from all the other people here,” Bortey said. “But I do think it’s an investment to be able to go back in time. And (yearbooks) really are historical documents. It’s important to recognize your time here at UConn.”
Alexandra Retter is staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.