Long Lines for Mailroom Frustrate Students and Workers

Kayleigh McHugh, Co-News Editor

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At the beginning of this semester, lines for the mailroom were extremely long. This wait was due to combination of factors, but was worsened by the fact that the bookstore went online. To help the situation, hours were extended and the back window to the mailroom was opened. For many this action was not taken soon enough.

Students and mailroom workers were equally frustrated at the rush of orders. Students waited in lines that extended down the staircase of the mailroom. Many waited for an hour or more, often for their required books, and at times found that their package was not there at all. This frustration was felt by students across campus.

“I waited in the mailroom line for forty-five minutes.””

— Serina Cook

aid Serina Cook (‘19). “I had to order all of my books online.”

Abby Michael (‘18) also waited in line one day for an hour, only to find that her books were not there.

“I think that they should have set up blocks of time by name or just had better organization in general,” said Michael.

This situation affected mailroom workers as well. Demet Senturk (‘17) thought the situation was to be expected and could have been prevented.

“First of all, the mailroom is too small, and there are going to be lines in the beginning of the year anyway. We get hundreds of packages everyday and we don’t always have time to organize the packages, but we do our best. So with the whole bookstore thing, it added to the back to school rush.”

Senturk explained that her bosses would stay late everyday to try to organize packages for the following morning shift. Mailroom employees have suggested moving the package portion of the mailroom to Tilton or to the Grind, but this student feedback was not instituted and instead hours were extended.

Despite her frustration, Senturk tries to remain positive.

“Some students are really rude. They cut us off mid-sentence, demand we find their packages, and basically just treat us very badly. I don’t think we deserve this. I understand if someone is frustrated, but we are the ones having to deal with all of the frustrated people. I just try to smile and tell everyone it’s okay.”

This sentiment was echoed by fellow mailroom worker, Sam de Garis (‘17).

“I don’t think the rush is different, I think the volume of packages coming to the mailroom is different. People have been very frustrated, they all want their package right away. And if they order something, sometimes it takes a while for a package to be processed. But they’ll come up and say, ‘Oh they said it would be here.’ But overall, people seem willing to wait in the long lines.”

In thinking of ways to ameliorate this issue, de Garis does not think expansion of the mailroom would necessarily make sense.

“If you go now, there’s really no lines. It’s just the initial rush of people ordering stuff for their dorms for the beginning of the semester. If there could be a space where you could go to just pick up books, like a bookstore, that would probably lessen the load a lot,” said de Garis.

De Garis suggests that for next year it would be wise for students to only order the essentials for the first few weeks and then start ordering the home/dorm items a little later in the semester to stagger the rush.

Physical Plant worked to manage the rush with at the beginning of the year.

“With the closure of the bookstore we probably experienced a bump in student online purchasing and, therefore, packages.  In the past five weeks there were about 1,000 orders placed through the online bookstore,” wrote Daniel Roderick, Director of Physical Plant. “Deeper analysis will need to be done to determine how these orders translated to packages processed at the Clark mailroom, as some orders would have resulted in multiple shipments and/or delivered to non-Clark addresses.  It is also important to note that the mailroom was designed in a completely different era where mail was mostly flat envelopes and the occasional package.  Clark, like many colleges and universities, today is facing almost a complete turnaround: few letters and substantially more packages.”

Roderick admits longer hours could have been implemented earlier to ease the rush. For next year, Physical Plant is taking data from this past semester to strategically extend hours and better utilize their space.