Dilapidated piles of unclaimed packages sat on tables for days in Commonwealth Auditorium, refugees of the hurricane that shut down the College of William and Mary the last weekend of August.
In response to the large number of packages accumulated during the evacuation, the College Post Office halted its usual email and yellow paper slip notification system last week, relocated boxes to the first floor of the Sadler Center and called on students to find their own mail. The move interrupted the elegant rhythm of textbook delivery and stranded hundreds of packages emblazoned with the Amazon logo.
“We appreciate your patience and hope that the expanded hours and the opening of an auxiliary location will help,” Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler ’88 Ph.D. ’06 said in a campus-wide email Thursday.
The student verdict: It was not helpful.
“It was so unorganized,” Michael Pereira ’14 said. “I got confirmation from FedEx that my book was delivered, but I didn’t get any of the normal package slips or an email from the school.”
Having successfully retrieved a package from Commonwealth last week, Pereira returned Monday only to have his textbook delivery hopes disappointed because the Post Office was closed in observance of Labor Day. Books delays have been affecting students’ ability to complete their reading assignments.
“We told our professor that we needed textbook readings posted on Blackboard, since the majority of students in my Government 150 class have not received their textbooks in the mail,” Sionne Olsen ’14 said. “He agreed to do it, but you could tell it was obviously something he did not want to do.”
Students sifting through each others’ mail raised security concerns. Instead of displaying College identification cards and waiting for Post Office employees to deliver their packages, students were simply asked to present a printed email indicating packages had shipped and to leave their backpacks and purses at the door.
Those rules were not always enforced.
“They just let me waltz right into a room filled to the brim with packages,” Pereira said. “They said to just search through the piles. There didn’t seem to be much organization … I needed a textbook, so I had to sort through a bunch of random packages, just to be able to do my homework.”
Tampering with or stealing another person’s mail is a federal offense.
“The fact is, if they aren’t watching, your package could be taken away by anyone,” Olsen said. “The amount of people coming in compared to the number of people actually watching is out of proportion.”
Alex Rodriguez ’13 had tracked a new computer battery, worth about $70, and saw that it had arrived at Postal Services Aug. 29. She searched for her shipment among the piles in Commonwealth for approximately half an hour to no avail.
“It turn[ed] out it wasn’t there, but I finally ended up getting a package slip later that day,” she said. “I was able to pick it up later that day because Postal Services had extended hours to try to accommodate the backup, so I appreciated that.”
As of Monday, all packages have been removed from Commonwealth.
The Post Office and College administration could not be reached due to Labor Day closings. Look for a follow up story in Friday’s issue of The Flat Hat.