ASG committee pursues mailroom e-mail system

Sammy Caiola

Five weeks into the start of the school year, paper package slips still line student mailboxes as the Associated Student Government continues its work on transitioning to a paperless system.

Improving mail service on campus was a focal point of Katie Bradford’s campaign last Spring Quarter when she ran for Student Life Vice President.

Since then, Bradford has appointed a special three-member subcommittee within ASG’s Student Life Committee, which hopes to change this system so that students are notified by e-mail when a package arrives. The subcommittee met for the first time last week.

“It’s something that we’ve gotten a lot of complaints about, and we think it will be fairly easy to change,” the McCormick junior said. “We don’t want students to waste their time trying to get mail. It should be a simple process.”

Assistant Director of Residential Life Ryan Reinhart said the committee has been in touch with various packaging companies and is trying to find a company that will best support the needs of both students and mailroom employees.

Once a company and package is chosen, its services will be applied to all of the dormitories on campus, including graduate student housing.

“We’re constantly looking to improve reliability, consistency and accuracy of our mailrooms,” Reinhart said. “Automating notification will improve efficiency.”

Last year, the mailroom managers at Sargent Hall implemented a manual e-mail notification system without the involvement of ASG or ResLife. Employees logged all of the packages that arrived on a certain day and then manually sent out e-mails to the recipients.

The system lasted through the 2009-2010 school year, but was “time-intensive and a lot of work,” Reinhart said. At the start of this year, Sargent returned to the paper slips. The software package the Student Life Committee plans to purchase will digitally send the e-mails.

“It’s a green issue,” said Weinberg freshman Daniel Kim, a member of the mail subcommittee. “We can help save paper, and it will be a lot easier for both residents and staff in the mailroom.”

Students often don’t know when the mailroom is open, Bradford said. The mail committee hopes to get these hours posted online in the near future. The prospect of posted hours and e-mail notifications is exciting to some students.

“There’s so many times I go to check the mail and it’s not open or I don’t have anything,” Weinberg freshman Benison Choi said.. “E-mails would save me a lot of time.”

The subcommittee is also planning on doing a general assessment of all the mailrooms on campus to see where improvements need to be made.

Some students have complained that mailroom hours are irregular and inconvenient.

“I wish (the Allison mailroom) were open more often at more normal times,” said Kashif Malik, a McCormick sophomore. “Whenever my Netflix comes in, the mailroom is never open, so I have to wait another day to get my movies.”

The Student Life Committee is not yet certain where the funding for the new software package will come from, but is looking to the Undergraduate Housing Office.

“When we look at the different software packages, we’re looking for what will be compatible with our systems and technology here,” Reinhart said. “We also have to keep our budget in mind.”

SamanthaCaiola2014@u.northwestern.edu

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