Illustration courtesy of Ha-tien Nguyen

Emory students all know the feeling. Finishing up lunch at the Dobbs Common Table and thinking of checking for a package. You swipe your Emory Card on the terminal and send a prayer to whoever is listening that your package is there. But most of the time, your spirits are crushed by the message on the screen that nothing is available for pickup, even though shipping information indicates it arrived several weeks back. 

Any student who has ordered a package this year at Emory has likely noticed major issues, such as long lag times between when packages are marked as arrived by the USPS and FedEx to when they are processed and ready for pickup in Few Hall. Students have waited days or even weeks for urgent packages. Simply put, Emory Mail Services (EMS) cannot provide excellent service to students with the amount of mail they have to process. The solution to this problem is obvious: Emory should hire more mailroom workers. 

In interviews with the Wheel, students testified to the backlogs they’ve experienced at the mail center. Alyssa Colen (25C) shared that “a package [she] ordered with three to five day shipping ended up taking two weeks to be ready for pickup.” The package was necessary for one of her classes and its delay impeded her ability to participate. Another first-year, Vianet Ruiz (25C), “had one item ordered a week ago arrive and be processed faster than another item ordered two weeks ago.” While the mail system is slowly catching up, students are still encountering delays. 

Emory’s struggling mail system makes even prioritized packages arrive late. Expedited shipping certainly is not going to do students any favors if there are multi-day delays for packages. To EMS’ credit, delays have improved since the beginning of the year. Packages no longer have multi-week delays. The mailroom is visibly less cluttered. Email notifications are back online, so people can get their packages out of the mailroom soon after they arrive. We should not settle for this delayed fix. This year isn’t Emory’s first rodeo: the University should be prepared for students to order a lot of packages in the first few weeks of school. There is no reason why the sheer volume of packages at the beginning of the year should have overwhelmed EMS to the point of necessitating email notifications be taken offline.

Clearly, there aren’t any systematic issues causing the delays for packages. EMS systems — card swiping, email notifications, MSC numbers for letters — all work fine. If the EMS system continues to work well, then the problem must be something else: demand for packages often exceeds the capacity of mailroom worker labor. This is not an indictment of Emory’s mailroom workers. In fact, Emory’s mail workers have been performing above and beyond what should be expected of them. However, they do need support from the University.

With an endowment of $7.97 billion, Emory University can afford to supply this help in the form of hiring more workers. There is no reason why packages should have multiple day delays. Packages should be able to be picked up either on the day they arrive or the next day, but an efficient turnaround time is precluded by a lack of labor. Hiring more employees would reduce the burden on individual employees and prevent a large backlog from occurring in the first place. In fact, more employees could even enable EMS to be open on the weekends, or have extended hours during peak seasons. 

Emory has the resources to fix a simple problem like mail delays. It remains to be seen whether they care enough to try. 

Daniel Matin (25C) is from Franklin, Tennessee.