The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

Where’s my package?

Photo Courtesy of UVM Print and Mail
Photo Courtesy of UVM Print and Mail Center.

It’s an all too familiar email: “Hello! You have received a package Box: Medium via Postal Service (USPS). Please stop by the complex’s front desk with your ID.”

The highly anticipated message marks the final stage in a lengthy operation. From the Burlington post office to the Williston warehouse, your late-night impulsive purchases get an intricate, first-hand view of the UVM Print and Mail Center. 

“We handle every single package,” said Shane Desautels, director of the UVM Print and Mail Center. “Every single package needs to be looked at and put in the right spot. [Packages] get handled three or four times before you see it.” 

Over 56,000 packages have been delivered to residence halls in the first three months of the school year, he said. 

Over 56,000 packages have been delivered this school year thus far. (Alex Strand)

“As the [next] generation comes up, students are ordering everything online and I get why, as trying to get to a store is difficult,” Desautels said. “I mean we get bikes, water, beds, couches—you name it, it comes. Whatever students order, we touch.”

The assorted mail begins its journey at the Burlington post office or is delivered directly to UVM’s 3,500-square-foot warehouse in Williston, according to Desautels. 

The packages are unloaded before being sorted by residence hall, quite a time-consuming job according to Keith Coakley, a Mail Services team member. 

“​​Five or six people will sort for three hours on an average day,” Coakley said. “Some days we can’t get everything in our vans so we go out to deliver what we can while one or two people stay and sort packages.” 

UVM Print and Mail has a fleet of four trucks and six Mail Services team members, according to Mail Services supervisor Lisa Anderson. 

Anderson is in charge of making sure everything runs smoothly and interacting with students or parents inquiring about the location of a package, she said.

“My supervisor, Lisa Anderson, is one of the best people in the world and is right there with us, working hard while also trying to reply to every email and phone call from students and parents and departments around campus,” Coakley said. 

The UVM Print and Mail directors (Alex Strand)

First-year Kaytlyn Lockwood experienced this hard work first-hand after accidentally leaving her key at home during fall recess. She emailed UVM Print and Mail who were quick to reassure her that it was in good hands, Lockwood said.

For important packages, such as keys or big purchases, students should consider FedEx Priority shipping since it requires a signature. This holds UVM more accountable for the package as they aren’t looking through thousands of boxes, Anderson said. 

“It’s really important that students have the name they go by and the correct address and ZIP code,” Anderson said. “A lot of times there’s not a room number on the packages and it would be really helpful to have ‘Harris 320.’” 

Once the packages are properly sorted by location, the trucks are loaded up and driven directly to residence halls. Packages never go through the Waterman building Print and Mail Center, a common misconception among students, Desautels said.

The parcels are brought to the residence hall mailrooms before being logged by teams of mostly student employees. At the start of the year or before certain holidays, this can be quite overwhelming, according to sophomore Grace Cunningham, an office assistant at Wing Davis Wilks Residence Hall. 

The first weeks of the semester, or around holidays, are usually the most hectic for the mail room as students order countless items for their dorms, according to Cunningham.

“On weeks like Halloween, when people are ordering a lot of costume stuff, the mailer bins can fill up really quickly,” Cunningham said. “There’s been days when I go into the back and you have to walk sideways to get to the wall as there’s so many packages back there to log.”

For about the first five weeks of the school year, the mail room sorts around 2,000 to 3,000 packages a day, Anderson said.

With the 2022-23 school year seeing 143,500 packages delivered to residence halls, the process requires more work than most students know. The ability to help students is truly what keeps all these employees going, Desautels said. 

The mailroom employees work hard to guarantee the happiness of UVM students, a job that’s undervalued at times, Lockwood said. 

“I know it can be underappreciated,” Lockwood said. “I can understand how stressful and difficult your job can be and everyone on campus really thanks you for all the work that you put in.”

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