Section: News

Mailing system generates campus confusion

Mailing system generates campus confusion

photo courtesy of Kristen Huffman

by Victoria Ungvarsky

Upon arrival in Gambier, students are directed to two separate locations for picking up mail: their P.O. box or 106 Gaskin Avenue, the basement of Kenyon’s bookstore. But for faculty, more options for delivery locations can present difficulties due to a greater chance of misdelivering packages.

Visiting Professor of Creative Writing Katharine Weber had difficulty locating a package. Weber included the address “Lentz House 99 College Park” on her package, but her package never made it to the building. Instead, it was discovered in the Maintenance Department building, south of the Taft Cottages. “It’s a scavenger hunt,” Weber said in regard to looking for packages. “Someone who happened to be there saw my package and brought it to me.”

To send packages to department buildings, faculty must indicate the building’s full address, or it may be rerouted to Maintenance according to an email sent by Manager of Business Services Fred Linger in August 2013. Weber said that several of her packages have ended up there, but that she is rarely notified of their arrival.

Maintenance Work Order Clerk Paula Morrison said that maintenance does receive some packages, but that recipients are generally informed of a package’s arrival the day that it arrives. “Well, anything’s possible,” she said. “But generally, we send them an email letting them know its here as long as their name is in the register or on the campus site.”
Weber eventually tracked her missing item down, but Assistant Professor of Classics Micah Myers is still looking for a package he ordered over winter break. Myers ordered textbooks to be delivered to the Ascension Hall mailroom, yet he has been unable to locate the package. “[The package] did have tracking on it, so I know it arrived here,” Myers said. He cited the fact that it arrived during winter break as a possible reason for its disappearance. “This time of year, people are getting so many course books. … I suspect it [may] just be under someone’s package in another mail room.”

Although academic buildings and maintenance provide other locations, the vast majority of Kenyon’s packages end up going through the bookstore. “UPS and FedEx will sometimes automatically redirect packages to the bookstore because they know a lot of stuff comes here,” Bookstore Manager Jim Huang said. “It’s easier to have their system kind of re-address things to the bookstore than actually do the work to try to figure out what’s what.”

Redirecting everything to maintenance or the bookstore became a College policy within the last five years, due to some substantial changes in security. Previously, mail would be sorted, then sent to the buildings. FedEx and UPS couriers could enter buildings and leave packages outside office doors and enter student residences. After changes in staff and the occurrence of the 2010 Apple Valley murders, in which a man named Matthew Hoffman killed three people and kidnapped a teenage girl in Knox County, Kenyon increased its security and sought to simplify the process. “[The old system] stopped after a reorganization after a retirement,” Linger said. “When you have all these companies who are paid all this money to deliver, I think we asked ourselves, Why don’t we make them deliver it?”

Initially, the transition posed some problems, but Linger believes that it has minimized the issues of redirected packages. “I think there’s been some hiccups and some problems. However, he believes the problems have lessed in time. Linger said, “That first fall of ’13, we had a lot of questions. But … I think I’ve only heard one UPS concern this entire academic year.”

Redirecting people to one place has its advantages, but making use of the bookstore as a central delivery point poses other problems. The downstairs space is tight and must be able to be used to manage personal deliveries as well as goods for the bookstore. A source associated with the bookstore, who asked to remain anonymous due to an employment situation, believes that a centralized mail room for all courier systems would streamline the process of picking up deliveries. “I think they need a spot for students,” the source said. “[Deliveries] could be made easier. Scanning systems would be great. The College would get stuff done.”

However, creating a united space for all mail systems seems unlikely. Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman suggested that a central mail space would likely require hiring two or more people to manage, for which, he said, there is no room in the budget.

Although some packages have fallen through the cracks, Linger believes the system works. “For going from a centralized system to what we’re doing, it could have been worse.”


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