Halcyon Halcyon Days

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

When students read one of this Monday’s Reserved Students Digests, they may have seen an advertisement for an organization that hasn’t surfaced much for the past couple years: the Halcyon, the yearbook of this very college, which only seniors have ever seen published.

There has been little official talk of the fate of the 2007 yearbook, let alone its long-lost sibling of 2006. The Halcyon website on the SCCS servers states, “All students receive a copy of The Halcyon for free for all four years.” Unless you happen to be a freshman, then, you’ve been had.

Reparations appear to be on the way, however. Giannina Esquivel, current manager of the Student Budget Committee, assured the Gazette that the issues with the Halcyon are currently under control. The 2006 Halcyon was sent out to members of that year’s senior class in June, while the 2007 edition should be completed and sent out within the semester.

If you are worried about receiving your own copy of the 2006 Halcyon, fear not: SBC currently has the copies for campus and will be distributing them as soon as possible. Members of the class of 2007 may have more trouble receiving the 2006 Halcyon they are owed, as finding the money to ship them out may be a difficulty.

As for why the Halcyon has been delayed so long, Esquivel blames a series of unfortunate blunders. Each year, a crew of editors, some of whom stay around during the summer months in order to include graduation in that year’s Halcyon, draft proofs of the yearbook and send them out to Jostens, a Minneapolis business that produces commemorative items such as class rings, yearbooks, and the like. Apparently several of those proofs were lost on one end or another, and lack of direct supervision over the Halcyon editors allowed certain deadlines to slide.

Esquivel is confident that there won’t be a repeat of past mistakes. A new position has been created to “act as a go-between” for Jostens and the student editors, and the editing positions themselves have been broken up to allow for a more equal division of work and “a sort of checks and balances system.” “It’s a new system,” Esquivel told the Gazette, “so I hope it will improve the Halcyon and that there will be no delays this year.”


  1. It was good to finally hear a little bit more about this situation. It’s unfortunate that there were no comments from someone on the Halcyon staff. Although it may have been impossible for newer editors to comment specifically on the past, it would have been nice to hear about their plans for the future and how they plan to work to improve upon some of their problems from recent years.

    As a former managing editor of a Swat publication, it is difficult for me to understand the concept of “direct supervision” of editors. Editors are supposed to be the people that are accountable and deal with problems. They also make sure that the “readers” of the publications know what’s going on if anything is different from normal, no matter who the blame falls on (i.e. like how the Gazette editors would inform readers of a limited publication schedule because it was reading week or if any articles needed corrections).

    I’m glad that there is more of an official system in place now, and I hope that the checks and balances also applies to making sure that some kind of progress is made on the yearbook before the editors are paid.

  2. As Editor of the 2004 Halcyon and member of the class of 2006, I was happy to finally see something written about the notorious absence of the last two editions of the Halcyon. However, I fear this Gazette article inappropriately refrains from addressing the fundamental problems that likely delayed the 2006 Halcyon. (I should note that it is fairly standard both within Halcyon tradition and at many other schools not to deliver a book until the fall semester following that year; for example, the 2003-2004 Halcyon was not delivered until fall of 2004 in order to incorporate the entire 2003-2004 academic year into the book. So the current absence of the 2007 book should not—yet!—be too alarming.)

    A previous editor the Halcyon, whom I do not know personally, highlighted how the Halcyon was structured and organized during her tenure. Most notably she mentioned what seemed to be a very structured, hierarchical organization, which must have required very good management. When I took over the Halcyon in 2003, however, we had little more than a skeleton staff. In fact my staff for the 2004 book was entirely new with the exception of the 2003 editor who stuck around to help out on occasion.

    During 2003-2004, I was solely and entirely responsible for managing the staff, setting and meeting deadlines, and negotiating with Jostens, our publisher. I received absolutely no oversight; nor should I, as Editor, have received any oversight. What concerns me most about the Gazette’s article is that it assumes the Editor of the Halcyon needs to have more oversight, and this reflects a dismissal of power and responsibility from the person who is paid (quite well) to manage the book. In a previous post, Alex Glick, former Editor of the Gazette, pointed this out as well: that it is solely the responsibility of the Editor to ensure proper and timely publication.

    Because of the inexperience of my staff, most of the work for the book (layouts, photography, liaising with students, parents, and administration) all fell to me, as it rightly should have because I had not built a large enough staff. And as is always expected in such a publication, delays happened, but good management often accounts for this inevitability. Because of proper forethought and planning the 2004 book came out in October of 2004, when the Halcyon and Jostens had anticipated its delivery over a year earlier. And the book was completely finished (my last communication with Jostens before leaving to study abroad) by August 2004.

    Editing a publication the size of the Halcyon is not easy (though it is small and simple compared to many high school and college yearbooks) and requires short- and long-term planning, technical experience and a sense of design. But editing the Halcyon is not impossible and, at least not in the 20 years of Halcyon history with which I am marginally familiar, has never required as much time as did the 2006 book. If I were a student at the College I would want a clearer explanation for why the book has been so delayed—a book, mind you, that cost at least $50,000 (that does not include the pay received by the Editor-in-Chief). Although I understand the Gazette’s stance of neutrality on a small campus, I cannot help but to place full and entire blame for the problems with the 2006 Halcyon (both in timeliness and in poor quality—there were pictures published that had been taken two years prior, while I edited the book) on the editorial staff.

    In every other organization, from governments to publications, the actions of the organization directly reflect upper management. Should the Halcyon be judged any differently?

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