By JESSE LONG
With students back on campus, the post office has become a major destination. Many students have ordered books and had care packages sent to their campus address. However, long lines have prevented some students from picking up their shipments.
“I am having my stuff shipped elsewhere because I don’t want to wait in line,” said Ally Clements, a junior public health major. “I still have a book there but I’m not dealing with the line.”
Many UT students schedules are so busy with school, work and extracurriculars that some determine that waiting in the line is not an option.
“I walked in one time to check my mail box and asked the girl at the end of the line how long she had been there and she said thirty minutes,” said Shelley Gress, a senior criminology major. “I just don’t have the time.”
Kathy Fryer, the mail service supervisor, anticipated a busy first few weeks at the post office and prepared with the hiring of additional staff members and by adding weekend hours for the first two weeks of school. However, what was not anticipated was the volume of packages that began arriving the week of orientation.
On Friday, Kathy Fryer sent a letter to the editor of the Minaret apologizing for the long lines and the inconvenience to students.
“It was inordinate, nothing like we have seen before,” Fryer said in the letter. “The volume of parcels received was unexpected (almost 3,000 over Labor Day weekend alone) with thousands more arriving daily.”
As a result, the post office has taken initiative to make needed changes to improve the process, and the first step was clarifying how the post office’s system worked. Many students, according to Fryer, are coming to the mailroom before receiving an email from the post office that their packages had arrived. Although the the online tracking information may confirm that the package has arrived, it will not be registered as arrived until properly checked in by the staff.
Another change students might have noticed is the addition of a second line in the post office. Fryer said that this was done so that students can wait comfortably indoors. In addition, the post office staff would like to include more lines in the future.
“I realize the long lines were still overwhelming and unacceptable,” Fryer said in the letter. “We are already discussing and looking at ways to make package pickup faster and easier for future semesters.”
Although the post office lines have been a concern among students, it might be a part of a bigger trend among colleges in the nation, as a result of the increased popularity of online shopping. According to a Forbes article, internet sales rose about 23 percent in 2015 and are expected to increase at that pace again in 2016.
“As we read about campus openings across the country, this seems be somewhat of a trend,” Fryer said. “We are all relying more on other methods of shopping and ordering, and college mailrooms are quickly becoming package centers.”
In the past, the lines have become shorter as the semester continues. According to Fryer, the post office staff noticed the lines slowing down last week and plan to monitor this throughout the semester and adjust as needed.
“We are sincerely sorry for the frustration this may have caused residential students,” Fryer said. “We work hard to ensure accurate and timely delivery, and so that this situation is corrected for future peak periods.”
If students have questions or suggestions, they can contact Fryer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jesse Long can be reached at email@example.com