Resident mail room finds it hard to deliver on time

Like many of the services here at St. John’s, the University’s resident student mailroom is an imperfect one.

Students have complained that important letters and packages have been lost in the cramped space filled nearly to the ceiling with pieces of mail. There are only so many hours in a day to sort through it all.

And they do sort through it all, twice a day in fact, according to mailroom employees. And mail even gets delivered daily, though students may not receive it in a timely enough fashion.

Therein lies the first problem. There are an overwhelming number of magazine subscriptions students receive through the mail, and many of them are sent on a weekly basis.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon that students receive those weekly magazines one week too late, once the published word has become old news and fresher events have taken place.

That problem only begins with magazine subscriptions. Plenty of students at St. John’s are financially independent, paying their own bills. How does a student explain to a collector that they couldn’t pay for cell phone service last month because their bill was lost in the mail?

Rest assured the workers in the mailroom work just as hard as any of the other student workers on campus.

But the five workers that make up the mail staff are students. Can students trust other students handling each other’s mail? Students are stressed, even more so at work, and good intentions mixed with stress can turn into a time bomb of apathy and, in some cases, laziness.

Even if the current system of sort-deliver-sort ever became foolproof, an underlying problem exists. According to a mailroom employee, the mailroom does not have its own e-mail account with St. John’s University and is not always updated with current rosters of resident students.

How is the system supposed to be perfect if the department isn’t given the full range of resources necessary to be as careful as possible in delivering time-sensitive material? And why are other campus services equipped with entire offices while the mail room sits at the end of a dark hallway just outside the laundry room in Donovan Hall?

In order for anything to improve, the organization of the mailroom as a whole must be changed. The current setup in the mailroom is two industrial shelving units, a couple of desks, one computer, and countless bins filled sky-high with letters and packages.

In a personal experience, the student worker on duty could not even find the proper bin to begin his search. If the University cannot afford to provide a larger space for the service, then the workers have a tough task ahead of them to keep track of where to find all the mail.

The University’s Office of Residence Life also needs to do a better job of keeping the mailroom informed with the latest building rosters so that a student who moved from Donovan to Century can continue receiving mail without complications. Convergence is not necessarily a bad thing.

And if mail is still getting lost even though it is sorted twice a day, then twice a day might not be enough to ensure accurate delivery. The bins must be updated and sorted as often as possible.

Mailed information is important, and shouldn’t be treated like lost socks in the
washing machine.