New Mailroom Deals with Students’ Return and Demands of Social Distancing

In order to address increased volumes of package delivery on campus, which begun last semester, Colgate’s new mailroom went into effect this Spring 2021 semester. The temporary set up, now located in the Coop parking lot above Gate House, is a modular unit full of spaced shelving. Students are expected to wait outside the unit in line until receiving their packages. 

Coming back from winter break, students were notified of the differences from the first campus-wide quarantine, in which the mailroom delivered all packages to individual residence halls. An email from Laura Jack, Vice President for Communications, clarified that “package pickup and textbook delivery will look different during the spring quarantine. These items will be available for you to retrieve in person at specific locations and scheduled times during recreation hours.”

The mailroom has seen over a 100 percent increase in the volume of incoming packages to students compared to previous years, as was communicated last semester in a campus-wide email sent by Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Joseph S. Hope. Modifications have remained from last semester including a new appointment system for picking up mail and a tent outside of the O’Connor Campus Center (COOP).

According to University Printing and Mail Services Manager Kip Manwarren, the new setup was the university’s response to the extreme lack of space the mailroom experienced last semester. The previous mail setup, located on the lower level of the COOP, did not have enough room for holding all students’ incoming packages. Even after requesting a second storage unit to accommodate the incoming packages, the setup was not enough. This year, Manwarren estimates the mail room receives “an average of 1,000 packages per day,” and that packages were even more frequent during the first few days of the universal quarantine. 

“Before the average of 1,000, packages were lower this semester than in the Fall. This recurring pattern is probably because of students coming back to campus in the Fall and more shipments in order to move into their rooms,” Manwarren said.  

In light of the pandemic, Manwarren claims that the amount of packages has remained high, although the past five years have seen a dramatic increase in input. 

“The greatest change is the reduced amount of luggage students were able to bring with them in the fall, contributing to many more packages,” Manwarren said. 

In comparison to other schools, the mailroom seems to be dealing with similar problems of overcrowding, long lines, and students who are prone to inattentive ordering on Amazon. Manwarren explains that mailrooms across the country are trying to develop ways in which students can receive their packages without coming into close contact with mail workers. 

In response to the new mailroom’s long lines and wait time, sophomore Dan Bernstein says the mailroom is struggling with the students’ needs. 

“It gets very crowded during scheduled outdoor time and the line is always full of students waiting to get their packages. I think they should bring heaters for people waiting in line,” Bernstein said.

Currently, there are five full-time employees at the mailroom, and six casual wage employees. 

“It feels like we get hundreds of packages a day here at Colgate, yet the mailroom always seems to know exactly where everyone’s package is and if they don’t, they always work as hard as they can to find it,” junior Maddy Leibinger said. 

“[I want to pay] kudos to the mail team and support them. It is a very stressful time of year and they are each doing their best to make sure the students get their packages,” Manwarren said.