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by Sydney Roach, The Holcad

This is the last year that students will see an Argo yearbook, at least according to current plans.  Argo advisor Kate Ratvasky recently sent an email to Argo staff members to stop the search for a new editor-in-chief on advice from Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Carllos Lassiter, according to current Argo editors.

Argo editors said that there have been talks about the Argo ending since the beginning of the academic year and that they knew it was only a matter of time before the official announcement was made.

The Argo was previously funded by the Activity Fee so that students would not have to pay for their yearbooks directly. However, Westminster is currently in a zero-based budgeting effort. The college has been operating in a deficit mode for a few years now and is trying to cut back on spending, leading to cuts such as the Preschool Lab and Argo.

“I’m sad to see the Argo go. I’ve worked with yearbooks for a long time as a student and then as a publication advisor early in my career. But we’ve seen a move away from print yearbooks at many institutions. Students now seem to be collecting their memories on social media and other digital areas. It’s a very sad decision, but it’s a necessary one as we look to lower prices and reduce our budgets,” President Richardson said.

Several Argo staff members expressed their feelings at the end of the Argo.

“I am pretty sad about it. The memories the Argo brings whenever Alumni look back at their days at Westminster, well, that’s not going to exist anymore. I understand we need to make cuts though. I just wish this could’ve survived another year,” Argo photographer Maddie Keenan said.

“I see both sides of it. I understand health and safety and money, but then, it also feels like they’re taking away the fun part of college as well. Like this stuff that we find enjoyable, it’s getting cut back, and, I don’t know, it’s kind of sad,” said current Argo Editor-in-Chief Caitlin DeSantis.

WCN’s Connor White talks with DeSantis on-camera.

One alumni who worked at Argo in the past also voiced their opinion on the yearbook’s end:

“As a former Argo staff member (‘06-‘07) and editor-in-chief (‘07-‘10), this news is like a punch in the gut. I spent countless hours up in the Argo office working on those yearbooks and making them the best I could. I gained so much knowledge and experience from the process, and it’s actually what launched me into my graphic design career. It’s heartbreaking that print media continues to be cut when it provides such a textile relief from the world of digital and screens everywhere. I hope WC can realize what a mistake it would be to discard such an important publication and record of the college’s history,” alumni Stephanie Finnegan said.

Many other alumni have reacted strongly to the news online.

“To me, it seems counterproductive. The college is taking away from the alumni the things they enjoyed about Westminster. As I see it, it seems the school is hindering themselves because with all those sorts of cuts the alumni are less likely to donate, which means less funding for the school, which means continual budget cuts until there isn’t anything left to enjoy, making alumni like myself frustrated and upset. I was a Phonathon Ambassador, so I understand the importance of donating and do when I get a student on the phone. But I know how terrible it was to get people to donate for the senior class committee because of the reductions that occurred during my time at Westminster (’11-’15). It may even push away incoming students who are interested but can have a better social life at another school and drive down the retention rate and gainful employment. Yes, it’s good to have state-of-the-art academics, but what’s the point of it if the extracurriculars and activities are cut? Priorities of the school must change for the survival of the school in the future. I worked hard for that diploma and want it to mean something,” alumni Emilee Atwell said.

Many students do not yet know about the end of Argo since the announcement was only officially made to students who work at Argo. However, multiple students not working at Argo voiced their opinions:

“I feel like yearbooks at any school are just mandatory, or should be. I feel like most people enjoy yearbooks and I certainly want them to be still made here,” senior Elizabeth Volkay said.

“I think it’s a shame that they are ending the Argo … It’s really cool to look back on them, even if the people in them are long gone. I’ve had to look through many, very old Argo’s for research, and it’s fascinating to see the pictures, writing, and designs. It really gives you a feel for the times and how things were back then. Now, if WC is still around in 100 years from now, the future students won’t get to experience that,” senior Christen Duerring said.

Another student, first-year Catherine Howard, said, “It’s unfortunate that the yearbooks aren’t being made anymore. They are a great way to remember all of the memories we are making in our time here.”

While there has been some talk discussing whether Argo could continue in some form digitally, no plans have been decided as of now.

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