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University News

Mail Services streamlines operations, revamps look

Mailboxes, Grad Center E pick-up eliminated as Mail Services consolidates in renovated mailroom

By
Senior Staff Writer
Sunday, September 13, 2015

As students returned to campus last week, familiar move-in routines like trips to pick up packages at Alumnae Hall, standing in line in the lobby of J. Walter Wilson and memorizing mailbox combinations were noticeably absent.

The University mailroom, housed in J. Walter Wilson, was renovated this summer, allowing the University to consolidate package delivery into a single location and completely digitize the pick-up process for both mail and packages.

Student mailboxes were all removed in the renovation, and the area designated for mail pick-up was moved toward the back of the lobby — around the former location of individual mailboxes. As a result of this change, letter mail is now processed through the same system as packages and given to students after they have swiped their IDs at kiosks. 

In an email to The Herald, Site Manager Richard Morello wrote that the change was primarily motivated by two factors: “to address the ever increasing volume of packages and service the students out of one location … and because we had outgrown the mailboxes available to properly service all active students.” 

Prior to getting rid of individual boxes, students would lose their box number when they went abroad and be assigned a new number upon returning. This practice was aimed at providing enough boxes for students currently on campus, though it was sometimes a hassle for those students impacted. “The high density mail system that we implemented … allowed us to take the space that all those mailboxes were filling,” said Elizabeth Gentry, assistant vice president of business and financial services for Mail Services.

Despite major physical changes to the space, very little will change in regards to mailroom staffing. The University is continuing the practice of hiring temporary mailroom workers at the beginning of each school year, Gentry said.

The mailroom changes do come with small alterations in training practices. Staff members will have to learn a new system to offer the retail shipping service this spring, and departments that previously had mailboxes may now be added to the university’s mail route, potentially changing driver scheduling.

Worker conditions, however, may be improved. The conditions in Graduate Center E’s basement, where temporary package pick-up facilities had been housed, had become unsafe for those working there, Gentry said. Now, staff members have a “more organized space in which to work and it is easier and faster to service students,” Morello wrote.

“I actually spoke to some of the staff at the tail end of the summer and they told me that this is much easier on them and a lot less stressful of a service,” said Jana Foxe ’16. “As someone who is using the service, I haven’t had quite enough experience to gauge whether it’s what’s best for me but I’m supporting it as long as it’s what the staff says makes their jobs easier,” she added. 

Students have already responded to the new amenities. “I really like the upbeat music that they were playing,” said Charlie Saylor ’17.

The project was initially slated to cost $900,000 and has not exceeded that so far, Gentry said. While the bulk of the construction was completed over the summer, some new additions are still on the way. The window toward the front of the lobby — which was formerly the primary Mail Services window for students — will offer retail shipping services, enabling students to mail packages and purchase postage and stationery. Benches may also be added to the waiting area, Gentry said.

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  1. wow, can’t wait to hear the upbeat music!!!! 11!11111!!!

  2. mail? we should be using e-mail

    san francisco

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