Residential Services centralizes Northwestern mailrooms, housing services


Annabel Edwards/Daily Senior Staffer

This year, all students must pick up packages at a centralized campus mailroom in Foster-Walker Complex. Paul Riel, executive director for Residential Services, said the new system and use of digital tracking will reduce confusion and lost packages.

Jeanne Kuang, Assistant Campus Editor

All students living in residence halls and residential colleges will have to pick up packages from Foster-Walker Complex this year, thanks to a Residential Services policy change.

Residential Services has updated its package delivery system and replaced it with a single centralized mailroom in Foster-Walker. Packages addressed to students living on campus were previously directed to mailrooms in nearby dorms.

The new package system uses electronic tracking to ensure students receive their packages.

“Packages were being left on the steps. They weren’t being accounted for,” said Paul Riel, executive director for Residential Services, of the old mailrooms. “So we centralized the package system and put this new electronic system in place, and we think that we’ll be able to have a much more accurate delivery schedule.”

Weinberg sophomore Arianna Farmer said she thinks the mailroom changes are inconvenient. Farmer lives in the Communications Residential College. Last year, she picked up her packages across the street at 1835 Hinman.

“It was easier to go to Hinman,” she said. “I feel like if everyone has the same mailroom, things can still get lost and take a long time. It’s easier to just spread it out.”

Riel said he believes the system will become more efficient later in the year when students settle into their dorms and fewer packages are mailed.

Residential Services also opened “neighborhood desks” at Allison Hall, Foster-Walker and Kemper Hall to provide 24-hour services, including free printing and keys for lockout situations.

Instead of calling a community assistant, students who are locked out of their rooms must now walk to a 24-hour desk to borrow a key. Riel said the new lockout policy is more convenient than relying on CAs to “run back and forth and unlock these doors all the time.”

The desks’ staff members are available to assist students and answer questions, Riel said. Each desk also includes a work station where students living on campus will be allowed to print up to 100 pages every month. Riel said the free printing services are paid for with advertisements.

“We think this desk is one of the ways to create a sense of community, a sense of belonging,” he said. “You’re part of a larger organization by using these desk operations.”

Riel said the desks have been in development for the last year.

During the summer, Residential Services also renovated several residence halls and residential colleges, including installing overhead lighting in all rooms on campus and partnering with Facilities Management to smooth the lawn outside Foster-Walker.

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Twitter: @JeanneKuang