South Dakota State University Students Resurrect Yearbook

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Jackrabbit finds new life on campus

By Susan Smith
South Dakota State University

In 2002, the students’ association at South Dakota State University eliminated its Jackrabbit Yearbook. Interest in the book had declined. Fewer people were working on the staff, and boxes of the free publication were left unclaimed by the student body.

Vanessa Dykhouse (left), Editor Paul Dybedahl

In 2012, that same group sought out an editor to bring it back. Vanessa Dykhouse, a senator from the university’s arts and sciences college, answered the call and began planning to bring the book back to life. Dykhouse found an adviser, negotiated a print contract with the school’s print lab and began recruiting staff. A small but dedicated group of students spent two nights a week in the lower level of the SDSU student union putting out the book – with no funding and little journalism experience. But it had the support of the university community. The Collegian, SDSU’s independent, student-run newspaper, allowed the yearbook to use its office and computers to produce the book. The newspaper and radio adviser, Susan Smith, became the yearbook’s adviser. The Union’s Information Exchange front desk and the University Bookstore helped the group sell books.

Austin Vanderwal

Advertising Manager Austin Vanderwal sold $4,500 worth of advertising, which paid for the printing costs. Students sold nearly 200 books, which paid for some scholarships for the fledgling staff. At the end of the 2012-2013 academic year, the students’ association gave the group $3,500 to pay for scholarships for the incoming staff.

Student Life Editor Paul Dybedahl said having a yearbook on SDSU’s campus is a way to connect current students with the past. And, he said, yearbooks provide former students an opportunity to look back at their college years and remember the good times they had and the contribution SDSU made to their lives.

“Yearbooks are important to college campuses because it is a way to document what happened in the year on campus in one book and it lasts through the years,” he said. “For me it’s fun to look through the old Jackrabbit Yearbooks and see how things have changed. If we don’t have a yearbook today, 50 years from now other students will not get the same opportunity to open an old yearbook and look back on what happened.”

Susan Smith
Susan Smith

Susan Smith advises The Collegian, South Dakota State University’s independent, student-run newspaper, its radio station KSDJ and the Jackrabbit yearbook. She also teaches news editing class in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication and the summer Journalism Institute at S.D. State. Smith completed her master’s in communications, with a specialization in journalism in 2012. She is a native of South Dakota.