By Andrea Liu ’24 (she/her), Staff Writer
Davidson’s yearbook, Quips and Cranks, has been student-produced almost every year since 1895. In its 125-year history, the yearbook has only failed to be printed four times: 1896, 1899, 1906, and 1944. 2021 may be the next year added to that list.
Each year, Quips and Cranks is uploaded into the college archives, where students and alumni can view past editions of the publication. Since its first edition, the yearbook has chronicled student life on campus and has often included student-written perspective pieces about their experiences alongside photos.
For the past two years, Haley Fullerton ‘20 and Emily Bassett ‘20 were editors-in-chief of the yearbook. Both began helping out with the publication as sophomores on Davidson’s swim team.
Fullerton expressed that she and Bassett “had really high hopes and wanted to be more intentional about [the yearbook].” Earlier editions contained a lot of text, including student pieces and perspectives. Over time, however, the book turned to a publication of just photos from throughout the school year.
Fullerton and Basset sought to make the book “more inclusive and overall more representative of the school, with more written pieces,” Fullerton said. Especially amid the pandemic, Fullerton noted that it was incredibly important to document student views, “to hear from people, and to be able to incorporate what people actually thought about things when they were happening.” In these unprecedented times, “this is the book that needed opinion pieces; it needed a voice from students,” she said.
Hendricks and other members of the staff worked with Fullerton and Bassett over the summer to finish the 2020 yearbook, which they hope to distribute to students later this semester.
Much to the surprise of Fullerton and Bassett, however, they “didn’t realize how deep in this hole the yearbook was — it was really a project.” Over time, their experience as editors was aided by “a lot of willing people to help.” Three to five students conducted the majority of the work in layout and yearbook preparation. Fullerton and Bassett asked their friends to help out with layout and proofing pages each year so they could finish the book and distribute it to the student body.
Despite the unforeseen difficulties that came with organizing the yearbook, Fullerton emphasized that Quips and Cranks “is a really fun thing to be a part of.” She added that “the creative liberty [she had with the yearbook] was really empowering.”
When both editors-in-chief graduated last spring, the organization leadership passed to Rachel Hendricks ‘21.
While Hendricks worked with Fullerton and Bassett to complete the 2020 yearbook, no one is currently assigned to lead 2021 yearbook production. Hendricks noted that “it’s a huge commitment. Making a yearbook is not an easy task.” On top of that, she has “got a lot on [her] plate right now, and there’s really no one who can step up and take [her] place.”
Mike Goode, the Director of Student Activities, has been involved in the administrative changes and maintenance of Quips and Cranks. He observed that for a while now, “student energy behind [the yearbook] has been waning. The stress involved in producing it is pretty significant.”
Upon hearing that this year’s yearbook may not come to fruition, Sarah Green ‘24 remarked that she’d “be a little sad not getting a yearbook.” Alana Wilson ‘24 added, “As a first year especially, I have been collecting so many new memories even while being masked up and physically distanced. I’ve met so many cool people and made lasting friendships. I feel like I’ve had the ability to be engaged in a wide variety of activities already.” She continued, “Starting college is such a milestone […], and I want to be able to look back on memories from it.” Some students reacted indifferently: Andrew Rice ‘24 expressed that he wasn’t expecting one to begin with.
The importance of the yearbook to students is not lost on Fullerton: the yearbook serves as “a tangible representation of such a big aspect of your life.” She added, “It’s something that has been representative of Davidson. [Keeping up that tradition] I think is important for history’s sake and [is] really special.” She clarified that “it could totally be revamped” to adjust in the changing times to fit what the student body wants from it.
Both Fullerton and Hendricks enjoyed their time putting the yearbooks together each year, but also felt as if the organization lacked some engagement from specific areas of the college. For future students who may take on the yearbook, Fullerton detailed that the goal would be to build connections with Alumni Relations and Family Engagement in addition to Catcard Services and other student-run organizations as sources of photos and content for the annual publication.
“My job is to work with students who want to make it happen,” Goode said. As a result, “if there’s interest, we can still do a yearbook, but if students are really not interested in having it,” then yearbook production will be on hold until the publication garners enough student interest to keep it going.
Speaking to the next phase of the yearbook, Fullerton said that “there is a lot of creativity and open space for something new.” She added, “I think that whoever takes it also needs to be aware that it should also come with changes from the school. I think someone should try. It has great potential and could succeed with a passionate staff.”
Hendricks stated, “We’re coming to a point in our times where a lot of people [may not] care about having a yearbook because they’ve got their phones with the pictures on it.” But, she added, “I think it’s a really special aspect of Davidson’s history that we should try to keep going; I just can’t be the person to keep it going. I’d love to see it follow through.”