Students question long lines at package center

When senior Christine Screnci went to pick up her package from the student parcel depot on F Street earlier this month, she couldn’t believe her eyes. In her three years at GW, Screnci said she’s never seen such long lines at the package center.

“The line was out the door, on the sidewalk lined along (the) street,” she said. “Everyone was bitching. I had enough time to eat dinner in line.”

Since the beginning of the fall semester, the package center at 2025 F St. has been clogged with lines of students waiting up to an hour to pick up their packages.

Nancy Haaga, director of Auxiliary and Institutional Services, said the “single most factor” causing longer wait times this year has been the dramatic increase in the number of packages sent to campus and distributed by Student Package Services. The University’s mail service has processed more then 16,000 packages since students returned to campus last month, and that total could rise to 20,000 by the end of September – a 33.3 percent increase from the volume of packages received in the same time period last year, Haaga said.

“The start of the fall semester is when we experience the highest volume of incoming packages over the longest continuous period of time,” Haaga wrote in an e-mail last week. “These high volumes are directly related to fall move-in.”

One reason for the increase in packages could be the growing number of students who have their textbooks shipped to campus by online retailers, who often sell textbooks at a lower cost than the GW Bookstore.

“On most days throughout the first three weeks of September 2005, we have experienced groups of as many as 50 students arrive to pickup packages at the same time,” Haaga said. “Many students will make the trip to Package Services on several different occasions as they receive multiple packages that often arrive on different days.”

Haaga said while Student Package Services hasn’t changed the way it receives and distributes packages, the department extended its operating hours during the move-in period and the first week of September to ease the long lines. The office will consider adding extra hours for a longer period of time in the future, she said.

“We believe that we are only as good as our customers believe that we are,” Haaga said.

But some students said they have a low opinion of Package Services.

“A lot of people think they are really disorganized and have a really bad system,” freshman Katherine LaMonte said. “The way it is set up, they don’t find (the packages) right away.”

LaMonte said from now on, she might have her packages sent to a friend’s nearby apartment to avoid the hassle of waiting in line.

Sophomore Adrienne Colburn said she had to return three times for the same package before she decided to brave the wait time.

“I couldn’t get in line,” she said. “I didn’t have two hours to wait here.”

Haaga said that starting next month, the package center wait time should begin to “normalize” as the office receives a lower volume of packages.

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