After a 25-year hiatus, the USC yearbook has returned under the name Thee Big Spur.
The yearbook was last published in 1994 and was subsequently merged with the literary magazine, which would then be renamed the Garnet & Black Quarterly.
Zoe Dosch, a second-year international business student, is the head of operations on the yearbook staff.
“I think with the switch from a yearbook to Garnet and Black magazine, the representation of USC culture became more fragmented. Different areas of study and extracurriculars are now being recognized in completely different ways and places across campus," Dosch said in an email interview.
The yearbook staff is recognized on campus as the Carolina YB and is working to bring back one of USC’s oldest traditions by the end of April. This year, 500 copies of the 2019-2020 yearbook will be printed and will cost $60 each.
Dosch said Thee Big Spur's main selling point is its intention to be a long-lasting and objective recap on the year’s events through brief descriptions and photos.
“It will encompass as much about the student experience that year as possible, including organizations, off-campus events, major talking points and much more. All of this inside an easily stored and sturdy hardcover book makes Thee Big Spur the most easily accessible recap in the long term,” Dosch said.
Samantha Petrelli, a fourth-year marketing and accounting student, participated on a yearbook staff throughout her middle and high school career. Her love for helping create yearbooks has followed her to USC, where she realized USC did not have a yearbook like other major universities, such as Clemson and Penn State.
Petrelli said her goal to bring USC’s yearbook back to the Carolina community ultimately developed into her senior thesis.
“To reach that goal, I started doing a ton of research on the yearbook industry, Power Five conference schools with yearbooks, and UofSC’s history with yearbooks. From there, I decided to write my honors senior thesis about the yearbook. I wrote a 50-page business plan for what it would look like to bring a yearbook back to UofSC,” Petrelli said.
Petrelli said her vision for the yearbook will create a more complete historical record for the USC community to look back on for years to come.
“Ultimately, I hope to one, give students on the staff an opportunity to have their work published while opening doors for their careers and two, give anyone who purchases a copy a piece of Carolina to have wherever life takes them,” Petrelli said.
Andy Burns, a professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, commented on Petrelli’s difficulty in finding a faculty adviser to represent the yearbook’s interests and guide the staff throughout this process.
“Maybe it’s a story about one student’s vision to get this yearbook off the ground and doing it even when she had trouble finding faculty help,” Burns said.
Dosch goes on to describe the types of topics and events that Thee Big Spur will strive to document and preserve for years to come.
“Rather than student portraits being the focus of the book, the main subjects will be athletics, student orgs, Greek Life, Five Points, State Fair, and other on and off campus groups and events that impacted large portions of the student body,” Dosch said. “Current topics such as the new university president and top eating locations will also be covered, to really try to capture a full picture of life at USC.”
Petrelli describes the yearbook’s unique long-term coverage and believes Thee Big Spur can integrate and supplement other student media groups and publications at USC.
“Garnet & Black magazine and The Daily Gamecock newspaper focus on addressing campus news, current social issues and trends, sports, and opinions, whereas Thee Big Spur will be more of a permanent time capsule that exhibits the growth and achievements of the university throughout a given year,” Petrelli said.
Petrelli finished her thesis a year early and proceeded to execute her business plan after conducting a promising survey, where 81% of students said they are/potentially are interested in seeing the return of a USC yearbook out of a sample of 525 USC students. She said she believes that students have a big part to play in putting the yearbook together.
“[S]ince this is a new organization and a (somewhat) new publication, we want all of the student input we can get. I love hearing new ideas the staff has, and ultimately, they’re the ones who are going to keep this publication going for years to come,” Petrelli said.
In order to get the word out, yearbook staff members have been tabling on Greene Street and will be at the upcoming student organization fair on Jan. 22. They will also be accepting ideas and pictures for the yearbook from the USC community through their e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leading the 25-person Carolina YB staff is editor-in-chief Julia Randolph and assistant editor Kaitlyn McCue. The staff includes writers, photographers, section editors and website and graphic editors. Five of these staff members serve as the business team.
Burns said he was impressed by Petrelli's ambition and he is available to the staff as it needs him.
“Thee Big Spur is something students, faculty, alumni, etc., will keep on the bookshelves or coffee tables for years,” Petrelli said.