Students in GW residence halls waiting for letters from mom may have noticed their mailboxes are void of the normal load of correspondence, bills and junk mail.
It’s not because parents, friends and retailers have forgotten them, but because mail has not been sorted and placed in their boxes yet, said Lorian Elisa-Hill, a Thurston office assistant.
This has been here for two days, she said, pointing to bins of unsorted, undelivered mail. It gets worse every day. More mail comes but there aren’t enough staff to sort it.
In the Hall on Virginia Avenue, packages and unsorted mail line the walls of the hall office.
My birthday was last week but I’m still expecting birthday cards, which were mailed a few weeks ago, HOVA resident Meredith Johnson said. I’ve told my family that it takes a long time after they mail something for me to get it.
Students in other residence halls said they have experienced similar problems with slow mail.
They have big bins of mail just sitting there, junior Nicole Harris said, describing the lobby of The West End.
Sophomore Gail Steinberg, a resident of Strong Hall, said the mail is also backed up in her residence hall.
Regular mail is really, really slow, she said.
The root of the problem lies in hall offices that are understaffed with employees, and whose workers are not properly trained to sort the mail, said Andrew Sonn, associate director of GW’s Housing Services Division.
Personally, I can empathize with people who are waiting for packages and letters, Sonn said.
Sonn said he blames the mail delays on large amounts of mail and packages that arrive during the beginning of the semester, an ongoing effort to hire and train work-study students in mail delivery and an increase in internet commerce, which has significantly increased package volume.
I don’t want to make it seem that I’m giving twenty excuses for late mail, Sonn said. He said Housing Services is working to address the problem.
In Francis Scott Key Hall, junior Andrew Adler said the delay resulted in late fees on his telephone bill. He said he switched to an automatic-payment system to avoid campus mail.
Some University mail officials said they were surprised to learn of the long lines.
In the whole scheme of things, the process of delivering and sorting mail should be seamless, said Sean Wynn, customer service manager for the University’s mail service.
Wynn said he sees about 15,000-20,000 pieces of mail a day from his office, which overlooks GW’s mail distribution hub in the Facilities and Management building. Wynn’s staff rough sorts the mail from his office and delivers it to the residence halls.
Even with a high volume of mail and only seventeen mail sorters, Wynn said the University’s mail services division is able to sort letters and packages and deliver them to residence halls in less than a day.
We have very high performance standards, he said. We work hard to get students and the University community their mail in a timely fashion.
Wynn said the problem is not with his office, but with Housing Services, which is responsible for getting mail from pre-sorted bins to students’ mailboxes.
Once all office assistants are trained and on the job, Sonn said he thinks the problem will resolve itself.
We want to provide quality service above all else, Sonn said. Service will be better.
Learning from this year, Sonn said he will consider hiring and training office assistants to begin before school starts, among other changes.
Next year, we’ll have a go at it again, he said. This is really a learning process.
Thurston office assistant Elisa-Hill said she hopes Sonn will come through on his promise.
I’m by myself right now, Elisa-Hill said as she answered a ringing phone while talking to a resident locked out of his room. It’s hard to sort mail when you’re doing two other things at once.
Resident Adler said he will remain patient despite paying late phone bills.
The mail may take a while to get here, but it eventually comes, he said.
This article appeared in the September 14, 2000 issue of the Hatchet.