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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Tufts mailroom to feature new alerts system, electronic kiosks for fall 2021 semester

Students wait in line inside of the mailroom to get their mail and packages.

In a logistical update, the Tufts mailroom is launching a new alerts management system and electronic kiosks starting this semester. Later in the semester, Mail Services also anticipates handling students’ external shipping needs directly from the Tufts mailroom. These updates were announced via an article on AccessTufts, the school's administrative website, on Aug. 2.

Mailroom alerts, which will now be provided by Ricoh, a Japanese technology company, will make notifications of packages more seamless, according to AccessTufts.

Another major addition this year is the installation of kiosks in the mailroom. The kiosks will allow students to check in and receive their packages in a timely manner.

“When you do come to the Mail Center, we look forward to seeing you, but we plan to make it a quick visit," the AccessTufts article said. "The new Kiosks will allow you to swipe your ID when you walk in and we will meet you at the counter with your package."

Jennifer Wood, Ricoh's partner executive for higher education, explained some of the changes students may see when entering the mailroom.

"Returning students will notice there is more space when you walk in," Wood wrote in an email to the Daily. "When you swipe your ID at the new kiosks, you immediately see how many packages are ready for you. At that instant, several big monitors light up in the back with your name, how many packages you have, as well as other details that help the team find them as quickly as possible."

Cory Pouliot, senior facilities director, explained why Tufts made the decision to update the mailroom's logistics. 

“Over the past several years, there were increasing concerns raised by students and parents about the service they were receiving from Mail Services,” Pouliot said in an email to the Daily.

Jason McClellan, Tufts' senior director of auxiliary services, discussed some of the benefits that this new system will bring to students.

“This new program should also reduce the wait times for items at the mailroom," McClellan said in an email to the Daily. "Additionally, students will be assigned these virtual mailboxes during their entire time at Tufts, regardless of what residential unit they are residing in.” 

So far, students have found the new system to be a great addition to the Tufts community, but have also pointed out some remaining flaws.

“Even though [the kiosk] only tells you if you have packages, it saves time overall in your trip to the mailroom," Elli Cho said in an email to the Daily. "The workers seemed less stressed and [more] focused on handling packages."

However, Cho, a sophomore, also pointed out that the mailroom still experiences long and slow-moving lines, suggesting that the new system still has some kinks to be worked out.

According to Wood, Ricoh is currently committed to managing Mail Services logistics in a manner that would improve the student experience.

"Listening to students, we are exploring ideas to make students' lives easier during move in," Wood said. "The team has lots of great ideas already and we look forward to seeing this relationship evolve."

Another major addition this semester, according to Wood, is the option for students to buy shipping materials and send packages straight from campus. Wood anticipates this service launching later this semester.

“We are planning to launch a new service on campus this fall, where students will be able to send packages from the mail center, as well as, buy boxes, packing supplies and stamps, all conveniently on campus in the center,” Wood said.

Sophomore Destiny Strange is open to the concept, but would prefer an alternative shipping method if given the choice.

"Using the mail center would not be my first option for shipping packages," Strange said in an email to the Daily. "I am more excited about having a place close [by] to buy boxes and tape for shipping than the actual shipping service itself."

According to Wood, the mailroom is undergoing plenty of behind-the-scenes updates as well. These updates include automation, new employee training, trend analysis and consistent fine-tuning to minimize wait times.

McClellan expressed optimism about the mailroom's new system and looks forward to seeing how students will respond.

“We want to make sure we are providing the highest level of service to our students and [the] rest of the Tufts community," McClellan said. "I am optimistic that this new system will be a great improvement and that student satisfaction will increase as this new platform is rolled out.”