Residential Services expects mailroom delays to improve

Lan Nguyen/The Daily Northwestern

Students wait in line at the new package delivery center at Foster-Walker Complex. Residential Services officials expect lines to diminish after the rush of students receiving packages at the beginning of the year.

Jeanne Kuang, Assistant Campus Editor

Despite student complaints of long lines and delayed package receipts, Residential Services is optimistic the new package center in Foster-Walker Complex will operate smoothly soon.

“We think we’re going to be OK now,” said Paul Riel, executive director of Residential Services. “That first two weeks of move-in and classes really slammed the mailroom pretty hard.”

Since the mailroom opened this year and replaced the more decentralized package delivery system of previous years, students have been forced to use the single room in Foster-Walker to pick up their packages. As a result, many said they have experienced long wait times.

(Residential Services centralizes Northwestern mailrooms, housing services)

“I’d say 75 percent of the time I go there’s a pretty long line,” Communication sophomore Jon Rizik said.

Since Rizik moved into his residential college mid-September, he said he has gone to the Foster-Walker mailroom about five times to pick up packages, he said.

Riel attributed the crowd to the large number of packages being delivered to school during the beginning of the academic year.

“If there are delays, it’s just the volume of packages we’ve received with move-in and textbooks being delivered,” he said. “Each package has to be received, scanned and sorted. That process takes time.”

More than 11,500 packages have been processed in the new electronic package scanning system in the past two weeks, Riel said. He said new staff members have been added and some have worked overtime to sort the packages.

“I think we’ve certainly been aware there have been challenges with the mailroom, and I think we’ve resourced it now appropriately to get it to where it works now,” he said.

Riel added that he expects the process to be “more streamlined” this week, “now that the wave of the big push is over with.”

Some students have also gone to Foster-Walker and left without their packages.

Medill freshman Tanner Howard said after receiving an email about a package awaiting him, he waited in line at the mailroom only to be told to return later.

“I went back this afternoon and got my package, finally,” he said, “And it appeared that someone (else) had gone in for a package, and they just didn’t have it.”

Rizik experienced a similar situation more than a week ago when he found out some of his packages had been logged into the system but were not found in the mailroom.

“I showed up again a few days later. They said, ‘We can’t find it still,’” he said.

Rizik said he was also told he would not receive another notification when his package was found because the package had already been entered into the system.

“I said, ‘So I have to keep showing up and hoping that you guys have it?’” he said. Rizik said he received his package Tuesday when he visited the mailroom again.

Riel said he has not heard of students being turned away from the mailroom due to misplaced packages.

“The only reason people would be coming to the mailroom would be if we sent them an email saying the package has been received,” he said.

He said Residential Services is considering ways to add to the Foster-Walker package services, such as “a more mobile process, looking to get packages out to where students live.”

“A single location for packages is the plan we have right now,” Riel said. “We’ve put a lot of resources at it. But it’s something we’re going to watch … We’re going to be looking at ways to improve.”

Correction: The number of packages processed by the new electronic scanning system in the last two weeks was incorrect in a previous version of this article. The Daily regrets the error.

Email: jeannekuang2016@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @jeannekuang

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