Paris Bienert: You’ve got mail?

Vern residents constantly have things to complain about, such as inconvenient gym hours, limited dining options and the Vern Express. But the most oft-mentioned complaint I have encountered these days concerns Package Services. Along with a new semester comes hundreds of textbooks flooding GW, making Package Services an important part of life on the Vern. Located in the parking garage of the campus’ new West Hall, the MVC Package Services presents just one more stressor for students because it controls if and when students receive their textbooks and other packages.

Last November, the University responded to many students’ needs by changing Package Services’ hours of operation to more reasonable times, showing the University is to some degree responsive to student feedback. The hours are 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and closed Sundays.

These new and improved hours would typically work for the average Vern resident’s schedule, if Package Services would actually stick to them.

Some people on the Vern have experienced the frustration of planning their day around picking up a package, only to find once they get there, no one is in the office to assist them. Even though Package Services increased its staffing so that it now has one full-time employee and two part-time employees, it is clear that there are still not enough people working to fulfill the needs of Vern residents – at least at a point in the semester when there are so many packages that need to be distributed. The current employees are well-liked and do everything they can to help residents, but three employees are not enough to staff the office for the length of its hours of operation. It is not unreasonable for students to expect to be able to pick up their packages during the posted hours of operation, and yet often this is not an option.

Additionally, the University should make it a higher priority to notify residents they have packages waiting for them as soon as the package arrives. As soon as a package is processed, an e-mail will be sent to its recipient notifying him or her that a package is ready for pickup. Unfortunately, sometimes residents receive e-mails that they have a packages, but when they go to get them, they are told to come back the next day because the packages haven’t been sorted for pickup yet.

A problem that occurs more regularly, though, is packages sitting in the office for days before being processed. Students can sometimes wait a significant amount of time before even getting an e-mail they have a package waiting for them. While I understand the appeal of getting a surprise Christmas present in mid-January, I feel that ultimately it would be better for residents to receive their packages in a timelier fashion.

Since the University limits the residents to a certain amount of time – seven days after receiving an e-mail notification – in which to pick up packages, shouldn’t the University have some sort of steady time frame for notifying residents? The office is supposed to follow same-day processing for express mail and 24 to 48-hour processing for first class and delivery confirmation packages, and yet students will tell you they have had to wait for days on packages for which they paid priority shipping.

It seems the problems with Package Services could be fixed relatively easily if the University listened to Vern residents again and took the time to follow through on implementing its solutions. Maybe the root of the problem is the drastic increase in residents living on the Vern this school year, and if that is the case, the University must figure out how to cater to the needs of all these students. Whatever the issue is, the University needs to address it soon, because too many Vern residents are getting tired of not receiving their packages.

Paris Bienert is a freshman majoring in women’s studies.

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