Our Views: SU bungles its yearbooks

Along with math, English, science, art and a dozen other things, we hope university students learn personal responsibility during their time on campus. University faculty members and administrators should teach such responsibility by setting a good example.

That kind of leadership doesn’t seem evident in Southern University’s handling of its school yearbook program at its Baton Rouge campus in recent years. The university hasn’t published a yearbook since 2008, although Southern has continued collecting a $25 per student fee that helps fund the yearbook’s annual publication. A legislative auditor’s report chastised university officials for amassing more than $800,000 in yearbook fees from students since 2008 without publishing a yearbook.

Southern’s vice chancellor for student affairs, Brandon Dumas, said the situation was caused by student apathy. He said no student or alum of the university ever approached him to ask why the yearbook had not been printed. SU Chancellor James Llorens said the responsibility for publishing a yearbook ultimately rests with students.

We agree that students have the primary responsibility for guiding a yearbook to publication. But someone within Southern’s community of faculty and administrators should have raised questions about the absence of the yearbook. If no yearbook was published, then students should not have been charged a fee. Dumas said an enlarged yearbook is being planned that will include material from the years when the book wasn’t published. He said Southern would do its best to get copies of the yearbook to students who missed them.

Southern administrators shouldn’t have let this problem linger for so long. We’re glad they seem to be taking steps to correct it.