As students returned to campus after winter break, many began bombarding Flok—a popular, anonymous messaging app—to post complaints about mail room delays.
“Has anyone else been waiting on packages from the mail room that they know have been delivered for weeks?” one student wrote.
“Anyone else’s packages getting lost rn?”
“PLS STOP GATE KEEPING MY PACKAGES”
According to the Mail Services website, peak volume of student packages “is typically during the Fall and Spring move-in period.” Therefore, such delays are common at the beginning of the semester, Gideon Pinckney, the mail room supervisor, said. With everyone returning to campus at the same time, including mail room staff, there is much to do during the first few weeks of class. For one, there is a substantial influx of shipments arriving for students, so mail room staff have to process more letters and packages than usual.
Additionally, many students may have failed to pick up their mail before going home for winter break, contributing to the delay at the start of the spring semester. According to the Mail Services website, packages not claimed after 30 days are returned to the sender. Because mail room employees don’t work over winter break, they had to return nearly 100 letters and packages that were overdue for pick up at the start of the semester. This backlog caused the staff to fall nearly a week behind in processing mail, according to a mail room worker who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal issues. They caught up on all received letters and packages on Friday, Jan. 27.
Students who were frustrated by the recent delays nonetheless empathize with the need for more mailroom employees to handle the large number of packages. “Can we volunteer to help out mail services? They’re understaffed and we need our packages,” one Flok user wrote.
Coming back after break, students also had to navigate new procedures for picking up packages. Students are now able to choose the location to pick up Amazon packages by selecting Leavey Center Amazon Locker+, the HFSC, or Kennedy Hall (customers can find the HFSC and Kennedy Hall centers listed under the names “Tarl” and “Samia,” respectively, on the Amazon website). Non-Amazon packages will still be available in blue lockers at LXR, Kennedy Hall, and the Leavey Center North Gallery, with oversized packages available for pick up at the Leavey Center Mail Room.
“All external carriers (FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc) deliver mail and packages directly to the Mail Services centralized receiving location on campus,” according to the university’s Auxiliary Services website. “Once they arrive, mail and packages need to be sorted student vs administrative, scanned into our system, and delivered to the correct location on campus.”
The mailroom will be making organizational adjustments to aid the current staffing shortage, according to Pinckney. The university is trying to hire more Federal Work Study (FWS) students to fill positions. Currently, the mailroom staff is in the process of posting four FWS student worker positions on HoyaWorks, the university’s central website for campus job recruitments, in addition to its existing positions, which are currently filled by temporary workers, who are often hired at the beginning of semesters to deal with expected workload increase.
Transitions like this are not unheard of for the university’s mail system. The mailroom itself is a relatively new establishment. Before the 2020-21 school year, students received packages through the various residence hall offices (RHOs) on campus. These offices were responsible for distributing over 180,000 packages annually and employed over a dozen students, including those with FWS.
“Typically, student workers would tend to the window in the Leavey Mail Room where students currently pick up letter mail and oversized packages,” the mailroom employee told us. “Student workers in the past have sorted letter mail and sent email notifications to students for pickup.”
The RHOs, however, were not able to keep up with the increasing number of packages. During the pandemic, the university transitioned to a system of lockers, which were open 24/7 for students to pick up their packages themselves.
According to Pinckney, students employed by RHOs did an “excellent job” handling packages. After the pandemic, approximately six students worked in the Leavey Mail Room, the new central location for sorting letters and packages. But now, only one student works there.
According to a university spokesperson, on-campus jobs for students are posted by the Student Employment Office. The student mailroom jobs are not yet listed on HoyaWorks. “We also encourage you to review the FAQs on the Auxiliary Services website to learn more about picking up packages, and more,” the university spokesperson wrote.
One student, Sean Griffin, said he had been standing in line at the mailroom for a while and needed to leave for class. One of the mailroom workers noticed and asked Griffin to come back after his class, after the mailroom closed, to get his package.
“[He] was very kind. Even though the mailroom was especially backed up, he allowed me to come back and pick up my package after hours,” Griffin said.