Students will get four-year mailing addresses, mailbox to improve delivery service

Nov. 14, 2006 8:45 p.m.

Responding to requests from students to improve campus mail delivery, Princeton University Mail Services will begin next year assigning all undergraduates a single mailing address for individual mailboxes they will keep during their four years at the University.

All undergraduate students will have mailboxes in the Frist Campus Center and no longer be required to share mailboxes with roommates or forward mail when they change rooms each year. The change, which will take effect in the fall of 2007, should reduce mail forwarding and questions over whether mail was collected by multiple users of the same mailbox. Mail forwarding, which increases both delivery time and loss rates, is currently estimated to comprise about one-third of the volume of mail in the Frist and residential college mail rooms at the beginning of each school year.

"We expect that this change to a single address will significantly improve delivery times, service consistency and loss rates," said Ben Hammond, director of planning and administration in the Office of the Executive Vice President. "Freshmen and sophomores will now experience the demonstrably faster delivery times and increased reliability that current juniors and seniors do in Frist."

The change is the result of a review of student mail and package service undertaken by the Office of the Executive Vice President at the request of representatives of the Undergraduate Student Government in the spring of 2005. In addition to complaints of lost and delayed mail, the USG representatives expressed concerns regarding package delivery. Because students had multiple addresses, senders were confused about which address to use with which carrier. Students often didn't know where their packages would be delivered.

The change was developed based on the results of a tracking study of student mail that was conducted by the Office of the Executive Vice President using student volunteers in the fall of 2005.

"Our research showed that mail sent to residential colleges took a day longer than mail delivered to the Frist mailboxes, and had higher variability and failure rates as well," Hammond said. "Also, Princeton undergraduates typically have three mailing addresses during their four years here, which leads to significant efforts to forward mail to the correct address, particularly at the start of the fall semester."

Currently, students are assigned a mailbox that they share with roommates for each of their freshman and sophomore years in their residential college. When they become juniors, students have their own personal mailbox in the Frist Campus Center, which they also keep their senior year.

With the change in mail service, no student mail or parcel post will be delivered to the residential colleges after the spring 2007 semester, and all student mail will be processed centrally and delivered by Mail Services staff. Mail Services will maintain its current practice of picking up mail from the U.S. Postal Service six days a week -- Monday through Saturday -- and delivering all mail to student mailboxes in Frist the same day.

All mailboxes will be located on the 100-level of the Frist Campus Center at the beginning of the next academic year, after renovations are completed this summer to add enough mailboxes for the entire undergraduate student body and to expand the Frist package room. All students will be notified of their new mailing address and the combination to their mailbox during the summer of 2007.

Sophomore Rob Biederman, vice president of the USG, thanked the Office of the Executive Vice President for the changes, saying he "couldn't count" how many students have e-mailed him with comments about the delays in the residential college mail system.

"I am certain that these changes will streamline the mail system, making delivery just as fast as home delivery to suburban residences, as it should be," Biederman said. "I am also looking forward to greater interaction with underclassmen as they receive their mail in Frist, and it will be quite nice to spare my extended family and high school friends the yearly update to my contact information."

To further improve service, Princeton University Mail Services is currently working to provide more information about address conventions on campus so that students, their parents and other senders know how to address mail and packages to reach students most effectively. Students can continue to have express packages from commercial carriers delivered to their dorm rooms. If the student is not at home and the carrier does not leave the package, the carrier will take it to the Frist package room. Alternatively, students can have packages sent directly to their Frist address for pickup at the Frist package room, which will have expanded window hours next year to better serve students.