The Undergraduate Council of Students recognized the University’s student-run yearbook organization, Liber Brunensis, as an official club last month, according to yearbook Editor-in-Chief Calder Hansen ’23. As a result of the recognition, the club secured funding from the Undergraduate Finance Board and was able to reduce the cost of the yearbook from $100 to $30.
Liber Brunensis has published the yearbook annually since 1870 and aims to “celebrate the memories of our seniors,” according to its website. The Student Activities Office previously classified the club as a departmental group, which meant that team members were paid by the University using yearbook profits, according to business manager Tenzin Diki ’25.
As a result, despite having a small staff, the group used to sell yearbooks for approximately $100 “just to break even,” Hansen said.
“Accessibility was a big pain point for us,” said Jenny Wei ’23, editor and president for the club. “It always pained us to see students not being able to order it.”
“We spent so much time collecting student self-submitted content and trying to reach out to so many departments and organizations so that we have a fuller picture of the Brown experience,” Wei added. But “because of the price, we weren’t able to make it accessible to everyone.”
“We felt like we could do better for people,” Hansen said.
The group began to consider transitioning away from salaried positions over the summer, Wei said. “We really wanted to hire more people for our editorial team but … (our) budget (didn’t) allow it.”
Last semester, the group moved into “a hybrid model where there were still paid positions but we were also able to hire volunteers,” Wei added. This allowed the group to increase their team from three members to approximately 15, according to Hansen.
The group also surveyed students to gauge awareness of and willingness to pay for the yearbook, Diki said. Survey results showed that students were willing to pay around $30.
“The poll was a pretty significant step for us to just get some numbers and have an idea of what students would want,” Wei said.
The group ultimately decided to request recognition from UCS as a student club, Diki said. This would allow them to gain funding through the UFB, expand the staff and lower the yearbook’s cost.
“The yearbook team is the one that came forward and said ‘we’re willing to not be paid’ in order to” lower the price of the yearbook, said UFB Chair Amienne Spencer-Blume ’23.
Results from the poll were presented to UFB for consideration when determining the yearbook’s new price of $30. According to UFB Vice-Chair Arjun Chopra ’25, the price can fluctuate in future years depending on the number of ads the yearbook contains paid for by parents and corporations.
“In certain years, the yearbook might actually have a net profit, and if that is the case, we’re going to look at reducing the price further,” Chopra said.
“We settled on the $30 cost as something that’s a large reduction from before but also ensures that it’s going to be sustainable for the long-term future,” Spencer-Blume said. “Ideally (UFB funding) is a long-term thing.”
Going forward, the yearbook hopes to have a “solid presence on campus,” Diki said.
“We’re trying to capture a holistic picture of what many different people’s experiences were like and many different aspects of the experience of being at Brown,” Hansen said.
In order to accomplish this, Diki said that the yearbook is promoting student self-submissions this year, expanding the group’s reach beyond its photography team.
In addition to making the yearbook more accessible, Hansen hopes that the group can “maintain relationships with many organizations throughout the whole year … so that people are aware that we are recording things and want to help us create this record that will end up being meaningful to them.”
“The yearbook is a service and (a) point of connection for Brown students,” Wei said.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Jenny Wei's position in the yearbook club. The Herald regrets the error.
Indigo Mudbhary is a University news senior staff writer covering student government. In her free time, she enjoys running around Providence and finding new routes.