Students working hard to bring back old War Whoop traditions


Norwich University, War Whoop, yearbook, Vermont

A rough sketch of the 2014 cover consisting of Jackman Hall with the Upper Parade Ground trees and flag used for rook week, symbolizing the start of the Norwich experience.

Yearbooks have long been the memory keepers of academic institutions. The War Whoop, Norwich University’s yearbook, is hoping to be seen as more than just a picture book and is going to be revamped, according to Norwich’s Assistant Commandant of Cadets.“It has become a very good pictorial book, but now we have to get it to include good written content to support the photos,” said Bill Passalacqua, assistant commandant of cadets. “Unlike high school, students don’t go around and get their book signed, but in later years they will pull it out, especially with reunions coming up every five to ten years.”

But staffing is an issue, and the War Whoop is looking for students who want to get involved in bringing back a more balanced format.

The problem with the current picture heavy format only started a few years ago. “When I was looking back in the past War Whoop I noticed there was a lot of words. When you get to 2009 the words aren’t there, it is just a picture book”, said Tom Carson, 21, a senior communications major from Winthrop, Maine, who likes the idea of having more writing in the yearbook. “A lot of times people will forget the events and want to know what happened then, let it be a reminder of what it was who was there”.

This year, Carson has become the layout coordinator for the 2014 War Whoop. “It is my job to make sure the people who work on the War Whoop get the job done, I have spent the last week and a half looking through old War Whoops going back up until 2000, and see what they did, what they included (or) didn’t include and how they did it. I looked at the 2012, which is the newest one that came out, 2013 will come out shortly, and I see what the staff will want to include and what they don’t want to include.”

According to Carson, there has been a decrease in the staff, losing two employees recently; he is looking for new employees to help him. Carson’s second in command, Rachel Cote, will fill the pages of the War Whoop with Norwich memories.

“The staff looks very slim; we are hopefully taking on someone else. We are still looking for people, if you want to make the time, especially seniors, your senior picture will be in this. Definitely get in contact with me”.

“In terms of the War Whoop, the tradition is definitely Corps of Cadets, Norwich is unique in that there are two lifestyles, and my goal is to show the integration because the past years have been really split,” said Cote, who is 21 and a senior studies of war and peace major from Chester, Vt.

Cote touched on the stressful atmosphere that is surrounding the yearbook. As a club, there isn’t a class attached to the War Whoop like the Guidon, which has a journalism class producing stories. There isn’t a solid staff, even though the yearbook borrows photographers from the Guidon as well as the university photographer. The biggest problem comes in the form of literary elements in the book.

“This year we are hoping to make the War Whoop more literary, adding poems and articles, stuff that can relate to a certain moment, or a quote and jokes. Adding words that make the memory stick more than the picture. It would make it worth the price”.

The amount of yearbooks sold in the last year was not disclosed. The preorders for the 2013 book were placed last year and alumni will be getting their books soon. According to Brandon Owens, a 2013 class alumni, his interest in the book stemmed from the tight knit community of Norwich.

“I’d like to see everyone’s rook portraits and senior portraits, rook platoon photos, rook week photos, junior ring photos, Regi ball photos, and just random campus photos of events throughout the year with bios of random cadets and their stories of Norwich”.

College yearbooks are slowly disappearing as the world of social media expands. Recording your life can be easily done with websites such as Twitter or Facebook and with books costing as much as $85 each, students will be reluctant to buy, especially with the high prices of textbooks this year.

“I could see how at other, bigger, less communal universities how this could be seen as ‘too high school,’ but you have to remember the atmosphere and dynamic of Norwich as well as its size,” Owens said, agreeing that this school is unique and stating that the culture may be enough to keep the yearbook from becoming defunct.

The money for the war whoop comes from the presales and after sales. Norwich does not put money into the publishing with Jostens. In the past Norwich has put the cost of yearbooks in student activities cost.

“At one time it was part of the activities fee and every student received a yearbook, but we moved away from that about 20 years ago. Part of moving away from it was because the method of distribution wasn’t a good method and a lot of students didn’t pick it up, so we had a lot of leftover yearbooks”, Passalaqua said.

iYearbook, an online source for digital yearbooks, brings a new age that many colleges are switching to. Digital yearbooks, which can be made online and accessed by everyone, is more cost effective then the use of paper and printing, and can be much more enticing with the addition of videos. Ever since the age of Kindles and Nooks, people look forward to digital books.

“They have specific templates and events they want covered, but they are giving full freedom over the rest of the contents of the book,” Cote said while explaining the ease of putting the contents on the page. That change in production to going digital has transformed yearbooks. “It is a change and I think the reason that they did that was they want the students to own what they made instead of something that only their parents will possibly buy.”

This year the book is advised and coming out of the university communications office.“In the past, it fell under student activities because it was a club and the advisor on that club varied from the student activities director to faculty member, until today you can’t really point to one advisor right now. It’s coming out of the office of communications right now, they have the expertise and the look and feel.” Passalacqua said.

According to Passalacqua, the staff is looking for a wide variety of students with different interests. “We used to have a very strong yearbook committee and that is where we have fallen short. We are trying to revise that right now, my thought is you identify categories of the yearbook and you find students that are interested in that category,” she said, such as athletics, or social life. Then you find a junior and senior strongly interested in that work with NU officials who can provide the expertise and support, she said.

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