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WSU’s got mail: mailing services sorts and sends mail across campus

Employees+feed+letters+through+a+sampling+maching+in+the+mailroom+at+Cougar+Publications%2C+Jan.+30.
Employees feed letters through a sampling maching in the mailroom at Cougar Publications, Jan. 30.

Employees feed letters through a sampling maching in the mailroom at Cougar Publications, Jan. 30.

Employees feed letters through a sampling maching in the mailroom at Cougar Publications, Jan. 30.

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From live chicks to bedpans, WSU’s Mailing Services has seen it all.

The diversity of recipients served by Mailing Services leads to interacting with some interesting parcels, said Mailing Services Supervisor Joy Rich.

Rich said some of the most interesting packages come from the veterinary department.

“We get live chicks all the time,” Rich said. “They come in boxes with lots of little holes and have to be sent through express mail.”

Rich added that if there are live chicks that are delivered in the winter, the drivers always make sure that they are their first delivery.

Other strange parcels sent to the mail center included a bed pan, which was sent to a student in a residence hall a few years ago, Rich said.

“If it comes through the post office, it usually goes out,” Rich said.

The mail center, located on Grimes Way, processes and delivers all incoming and outgoing mail from every academic building, every service unit, and every residence hall on campus.

From July 2012 through the end of June 2013, 293,508 items of student mail passed through the mail center.

In that same time, 1,180,217 pieces of academic mail passed through the same room.

Rich said each day deliveries are made to 350 stops, which are divided between four routes not including the residence halls.

In addition to external mail, the mail center also creates and processes all of the tax forms sent to each university employee.

“I did 10,000 of them this morning,” Rich said.

A total of about 35,000 tax forms will be generated, stamped, addressed, and shipped out by the mail center, he said.

The mail room is manned by only five full-time and five part-time employees.

The processing system is the most extensive for packages being sent to residence halls, Rich said.

For each package that comes into the mail center, information is recorded on where it is from and what it is, and the name and room number on the package is cross-referenced with the name on the housing contract.

If the name on the package does not match the name on the housing contract, Rich said research will have to be done to determine if the package is addressed to the parent of a student or if it was for a previous resident.

“We try to be accommodating,” Rich said.

Even with the extensive amount of processing, the staff tries to send out each package to students the same day it is picked up.

A pick-up number is also assigned to each student package in order to add an extra layer of protection for student’s mail, Rich said.

Freshman elementary education major Meghan Takayoshi said the process of picking up a package from the front desk of the residence hall seems a little extensive.

“It’s not that big of a deal, but it seems like if we show our IDs, we should be able to get it, instead of getting a package number,” Takayoshi said.

Rich said the long tracking process helps prevent theft and lost packages.

“For the most part, I don’t think I get more than one mis-delivered package a month,” Rich said.

However, if there is an issue with a package being misplaced or picked up by the incorrect person, the University’s retention policy requires the mail center to keep all of the signature forms for seven years, allowing them to go back and see what happened, Rich said.

Takayoshi said she has only heard of a few problems associated with package delivery.

“The only problem I’ve heard is people getting a notice, and then the package not being there, so they have to wait a few days,” Takayoshi said.

One advantage of the University having a central mail system is the efficiency of processing mail and postal fees for each university department, Rich said.

“The thing with having a mailing service on campus, we put the exact amount on the envelope,” Rich said. “Otherwise they would be sitting in their offices, trying to weigh and stamp each envelope, and nine out of 10 times they would be paying too much.”

Rich said her team is also trained to efficiently label and handle packages, work through problems with WSU students and staff, and know how to handle hazardous material that might be sent to different departments.

“It’s mail, anyone can do it,” Rich said. “But you have to have the skills to do it well.”

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WSU’s got mail: mailing services sorts and sends mail across campus