What the Grassburr distribution numbers really reflect


Alex Huerta/The JTAC

Margaret Tippie getting her Grassburr yearbook signed by a member of the Purple Poo at the second annual Grassburr Signing Party

EDITORS NOTE: This story is in response to the Texan News Service article published on Oct. 17, 2019 written by Arynn Tomson titled “Grassburr distributon numbers decline; Student Publications aims to increase awareness”. This response is written by the former Grassburr Editor-in-Chief  2018 – 19, Shelby Smith.


Texan News Service recently published an article titled, “Grassburr numbers decline,  Student Publications aims to increase awareness.” This article was misleading on several points, and in order for Tarleton students to be informed on the goings on of the Grassburr, this article was written with more accurate facts and figures. For starters, the title in that of itself is incorrect because if you look at the Grassburr Distribution numbers from 2018 to now, they have increased. If students picked up over 700 yearbooks in the first two weeks of distribution for 2019 and in 2018 the total number of books given out was 1,185, then the numbers show that distribution has drastically increased in the last year. The distribution numbers from 2018 reflect a few of the following things: The Grassburr external was stolen in February of 2018. This put work on the publication on hold for months. As a result, the yearbook was completed after it’s due date and printed versions weren’t received until nearly Oct. of 2018. Next, the Grassburr Signing Party was scheduled for the fall of 2018 and supposed to be held on the dining hall patio, but due to inclement weather, this location was changed at the last minute and student turnout was less than expected. Talking about these numbers without talking about the actual facts behind them is negligent, but the distribution numbers aren’t the only part of this article that reflects that. For example, Director of Student Affairs Marketing and Student Publications, Caleb Chapman was interviewed for the TNS article, but his answers were
left out of the article itself. Perhaps this is because when asked “how much of a student’s tuition and fees bill goes into the production of the [Grassburr],” Chapman responded that the Grassburr receives no money from tuition, but it receives only a portion of the University Services Fee  (USF) each student is charged. Chapman said that his rough estimation shows that from the USF fee, each student is paying around $2 or $3 per semester toward Grassburr production. Chapman went on to state in his interview that if students were given the option to ‘opt-in’ to buying the Grassburr they would be expected to pay $70 to $80 per book, which means less accessibility for all students. “I truly believe that the student staff of the Grassburr provides an important service to Tarleton. For nearly 104 years, the Grassburr has preserved this institution’s history and tradition. Think of it this way, all students pay a health services fee, but do all students utilize the health center? All students pay a rec fee, but do they all use the facility? All students pay an athletic fee, but does everyone go to the games? Pretty much every service provided at Tarleton is paid for in one way or another through mandatory fees. It’s up to the students to take advantage of those services,” Chapman said. Furthermore, the TNS article chose to focus less on what the current Grassburr staff is doing to increase publication awareness and distribution in favor of interviewing students and getting their opinions on what they thought the Grassburr should do. The current Grassburr Editor-inChief, Omar Herrera, explained that in order to increase the distribution numbers from last year his staff decided to do a few things. For one, The Grassburr Signing Party was the student body’s first chance to pick up their 2019 Grassburr. They not only asked the Purple Poo to come and sign students Grassburrs but they handed out shirts, had games, food and even a DJ. Students were at the event even after it was over in hopes of getting their Grassburrs signed. If you missed the opportunity, don’t worry. Herrera said that the Grassburr staff intends on inviting the Purple Poo to Grassburr Fest during the spring semester too. They also held a distribution event the day following the Grassburr Signing Party. As a result, both events were a rousing success with over 430 books handed out within the first two days of distribution. The success of the distribution event, coupled with the Grassburr Signing Party is due to the overhaul Herrera and his staff did on how the events are held. They decided each distribution event would have a theme, for example
they had a ‘Pink Out’ theme during breast cancer awareness month. They also display the Grassburr banner, the current yearbook cover and a sandwich board stating that students can pick up their yearbooks for free when they are holding a distribution event. The Grassburr will continue to hold these weekly events every Thursday from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. until Nov. 14. They will also be held during the spring semester on a to be determined weekday. Look out for these distribution events in the Barry B. Thompson Student Center, in front of the Dick Smith Library or on the dining hall patio. On top of all these changes, the Grassburr staff has plans to begin attending organizational meetings in order to distribute yearbooks and include more organizations’ photos in the Grassburr. So there you have it, the facts behind what the Grassburr has been doing to make sure that any money going toward it is not being wasted. The yearbook is a labor of love and not an easy position to hold for the school. There is a lot of pressure to perform well. However, at the end of the day the Grassburr preserves Tarleton’s history each year and without it, students would be unable to have a snapshot of each year they attended here.