Southern collecting yearbook fees, but no book

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Southern University has been collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in student fees for a yearbook that hasn't been produced for five years, according to an audit released Monday.

The report by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's Office says Southern University collected $816,903 from July 2008 through June 2012 in student fees for a yearbook, with students paying $15 each fall and spring semester and $7.50 during summer semesters. During the same time, the university spent $233,699 from the account.

But the audit says the last Jaguar Yearbook issued was for the 2007-08 school year that ended before the nearly $817,000 in fees were collected. And that last yearbook wasn't released until spring 2011.

The audit also says students haven't gotten a digital version of the yearbook that is required by a student referendum that increased the yearbook fee and took effect in fall 2003. "Students are being charged a fee every semester for a yearbook. Students voted to increase the fee so as to receive a CD-ROM version and more color pages with every hardcopy of the Jaguar Yearbook.

However, no yearbook has been produced in five years," the audit says. Southern Chancellor James Llorens wrote in a response to the audit that a new director of student media was hired in 2012 and has been charged with dealing with the yearbook delays. However, he also said the yearbook is produced by students and "that the responsibility lies ultimately in the commitment of our students."

The audit says the new student media director, Heather Freeman, said a new yearbook will be issued in the fall, covering the school years from 2008-09 through 2012-13. Students also reworked their fees and are now charged one student media fee for the student yearbook, newspaper and magazine, $25 per semester in the fall and spring and $12.50 per summer semester, according to the audit.

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