The University of Connecticut Student Mail Services will selectively remain open during Thanksgiving and winter break.
Tracy Cree, who has been the manager of Student Mail Services for about six years, gave a tour of Central Warehouse, where University Mail Services is housed. Two student helpers and one professional staff member were busy scanning, labeling and sorting packages between the nine mailrooms, which were then bagged and lined up for delivery.
Over Thanksgiving break, all new incoming mail will be consolidated into Putnam’s mailroom. Packages not picked up before the break will remain in their current mailrooms, but orders scheduled for delivery between Saturday, Nov. 20 and Friday, Nov. 26 will go to Putnam only. All updates and information can be found on the Student Mail Services website.
“We couldn’t possibly handle gathering everything from the eight other mailrooms and pushing it into Putnam,” Cree said in an interview. “If you have something at the mailroom now or next week through Friday, you need to get it at the mailroom if you want it for the week of Thanksgiving. If you don’t, it’ll be there when you get back.”
The Thanksgiving mailroom hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; Nov. 20; 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 27. Mailrooms aren’t open on Sundays, and they will be closed on Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage Day.
“We find it’s one of the most used mailrooms because it has Garrigus, one of the larger residential areas. And, we house a lot of athletes in that area. We tend to use it because it has a card access door on the side of the building that we can activate for all residential students during that time,” Cree said. “Otherwise, if we used a place like McMahon, they would lock those doors. [Other dorms are] inside an area we can’t easily give access to.”
During winter break, any student who wishes to remain on campus will have to sign-up with residential life, and the application is due Dec. 10. The pickup for winter break is located at UMS at Central Warehouse. Cree said the building is located behind the Fire Department, and students should enter through the glass doors to the left of the loading docks, which will be identified by a UMS sign. She said these instructions are important to follow because students often get confused when using map services on their phone.
“On winter break, we will have a list of who those students are who are staying. We will sort out the stuff for the students who are here and then everything else that’s arriving for the student who’ll be here in the spring will be bundled into large blue bins, sealed and wrapped,” Cree said.
Cree said students who are signed up for winter break will get an email confirming their package has made it to UMS with a list of hours. UMS’s system updated information on the students living on campus each morning at 5 a.m.
“Our system is live so when we cross over into the dates listed for break, the system shifts to show who is allowed to be here,” Cree said. “All [UMS workers] have to do is type in the name on the package, and if it doesn’t come up, they’ll bin it to the side, and those staying will have their orders processed.”
For both breaks, Cree recommends students address any orders straight to home because delays in the supply chain and shipment services will cause delays in UMS’s receiving of mail.
“If you are ordering a gift for home, like for a family member, or it’s something you need over the break, mail it home. [Students] only have two weeks once you get back here, so you’ll be lucky if you get packages from Cyber Monday within two weeks,” Cree said.
She also urged students using subscription services like Blue Apron to update their refill dates, because unless a student is listed as staying over break, mail services will be forced to send those packages back, or else they will go sour in the warehouse.
Cree said the best way to make the jobs of UMS workers easier is to make sure the address on their mail is listed correctly.
“Everyone on campus utilizes the same address format, with the exception of Northwood. First and last name, room number, hall, Storrs, CT 06269. A lot of people don’t realize that that zip code is the University of Connecticut, we have our own zip code. ‘06268’ is the town of Mansfield. They need to use their proper names, not nicknames or middle names. Our system can’t make a match otherwise.”
Cree noted a large red bin outside her office where unidentified packages reside. She said there was a point where three bins were full of packages staff couldn’t identify, and she had to look them up by hand because it’s too time consuming to call individual students to see if they’re a match.
“It’s gotten so bad that we have an unknown pile. The other ones, at least, had a room number and hall name,” Cree said.