Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

Mail Services faces increased volume of packages, further logistical demands

Mailroom distributed over 25,000 packages to student body in January; some students describe challenges in receiving mail-in ballots for 2020 election with faulty notification system

After getting a notification from Mail Services that her package had arrived the night before, Emerson Goodrich ’23 made a point of waking up early to beat the line at the campus mailroom. Yet, despite arriving at 8:45 a.m., Goodrich was greeted by a line of students teeming out of Page-Robinson Hall and flowing down Waterman Street. Before much of campus had even woken up, she spent over half an hour waiting in the cold of a New England winter.

In January alone, the mailroom distributed over 25,000 packages to the student body — a greater volume than the previous spring semester, wrote Rich Morello, Mail Services site manager, in an email to The Herald.

Given the larger quantity of packages passing through the mailroom, as well as new public health protocols, long lines of students extending down Waterman Street have become a familiar sight on campus, synonymous with the process of picking up mail.

“I had never seen the mailroom with a line, first of all,” Goodrich said. “I just thought it was crazy.” Other times, she would try to pick up items from the mailroom, only to see the long line and decide that it was not worth the wait.

During Quiet Period for spring 2021, picking up mail was one of few activities for which students were permitted by the University to leave their dorm rooms. Mail Services had to rework operations to accommodate both student needs and community health guidelines. This included installing directional arrows and plexiglass dividers in the package pickup area, as well as imposing a maximum number of students allowed in the lobby at a time, leading to the long lines down the street.

Of the thousands of orders being distributed to the student body, a large portion comes from Brown’s own campus. The Brown Bookstore has been operating on a remote ordering basis since the fall semester, with the option for on-campus students to have their textbooks shipped to Mail Services.

The bookstore has shipped about 270 orders per day since the start of the spring semester, approximately 90 percent of which go directly to Mail Services, wrote TJ Cochran, Bookstore director, in an email to the Herald. This marks an increase from the fall, when orders averaged 230 a day for the first three weeks of classes.

“We had one week with consecutive days of very large numbers of web orders. Due to the large volume, Bookstore staff worked extra hours through the weekend to ensure processing was caught up,” Cochran wrote.

The quantity of shipments also posed challenges for USPS workers and mail carriers, leading to some delays for off-campus students, Cochran added.

Last semester, Mail Services also had difficulty with its email notification system for students receiving paper mail. For Will Gold ’22, this meant difficulties in the mail-in voting process for the national election this past November.

Gold applied for a mail-in ballot from his home state of Connecticut over a month prior to the election but never received a notification that it arrived at the mailroom. Assuming that it had gotten lost in the process of being mailed, Gold called his town clerk and asked for an additional ballot.

Eventually, Gold directly asked at the mailroom counter if he had paper mail waiting for him, and received both of his requested ballots.

Renee Clairvoyant ’23 had a similar experience with nearly missing their mail-in ballot after not receiving a notification that it arrived. 

“I never went to the mailroom other than when I got a notification,” they said. “I didn’t think to just check (with Mail Services) first, so I was calling my Board of Elections.” 

Like Gold, they checked the mailroom just to be sure and found their ballot — along with several other letters.

As the fall semester went on, the issue surrounding students receiving notifications for letters and paper mail “was brought to our attention by a number of students,” Morello wrote. “We immediately engaged Brown Computing and Information Services and with their assistance the system issue was quickly identified and corrected.”

Morello is optimistic that mailroom operations will continue to get smoother as the campus progresses further into the spring semester.

“Our student population has been outstanding in understanding and adhering to the safety protocols and being patient while waiting to pick up their mail,” Morello wrote.

“We recognize that waiting outdoors in winter weather conditions is not fun,” he added. “Thankfully, as the volume of incoming mail (and) packages continues to decrease, we are seeing a reduction in the outdoor wait time.”


Jack Walker

Jack Walker served as senior editor of multimedia, social media and post- magazine for The Herald’s 132nd Editorial Board. Jack is an archaeology and literary arts concentrator from Thurmont, Maryland who previously covered the Grad School and staff and student labor beats.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Brown Daily Herald, Inc.