The University’s mail center remained open this weekend, with staff members working multiple shifts to address processing issues that have resulted in a backup of packages and long waits for students.

While the beginning of the semester is one of the busiest times of the year for the mail center the increased demand for textbooks and school supplies in the past two weeks has resulted in more delays than usual. 

New students were not added to the Xerox mailing system until recently and did not receive email notifications when their packages arrived, according to an email to the Justice from Vice President of Campus Operations Jim Gray. Instead they were told to present their tracking numbers, with mail center staff then searching manually through the packages. 

In the email, Gray explained that the increased volume of inbound packages, coupled with the mail sorting machine breaking down for two days, resulted in the slow processing of packages and delayed email notifications.

A lack of experienced staff members amplified the congestion, though the mail center now has “more than full staffing,”with some staff members working double shifts and through the night to get back on track, Gray wrote. The weekend hours also encourage students to pick up packages and decrease the backlog, he wrote. 

“What’s needed most is to get packages out more quickly than they’re coming in, because they’re starting to run out of space in the mailroom,” Student Union President Jacob Edelman ’18 said in an interview with the Justice. He suggested that students go to the mail center during off hours or during hours when many students have class in order to expedite the process.

Edelman added that the University has received offers from students and parents to volunteer in sorting packages. “It’s really appreciated that people want to help, but that’s not what’s really needed right now,” he said. 

Regarding the University’s continued relationship with Xerox, Gray wrote that the University holds all of its contracted service providers to the “highest standard” and always evaluates its relationship with the providers if the standard is not met to ensure that the “community is better served in the future.”

“I and our whole team involved in the mail operation are very sorry for this service breakdown, and we are doing everything we can to restore normal service and assure this doesn't happen again,” Gray concluded.

—Abby Patkin contributed reporting.