Tracking the mail

Tylee Bush

Just about everyone receives mail, whether it’s letters or packages, bills or birthday cards, but not everyone stops and thinks about the multifaceted procedures that go into the delivery of mail. Getting mail from sender to receiver is a complex process full of several different operations and sequences. There is a lot of work that takes place behind the scenes, especially on a campus of roughly 25,000 students such as Grand Valley State University.

The GVSU mailroom is a high-functioning, busy facility on campus that ensures the delivery and receipt of all incoming and outgoing mail. Students, faculty and staff alike take advantage of GVSU Mail Services but may not know the amount of effort that goes into the department’s many procedures.

Janet Aubil started working at GVSU in 2009 as a custodial supervisor for the cleaning and caretaking of academic buildings and now serves as the Facilities Services operations supervisor in Mail Services as of 2016.

Aubil discussed the intricate processes that make up the mailroom and proudly boasted their efficiency and accuracy. She said items go missing very infrequently in the mail system, but she did recall a time when a missing 400-pound package was found.

“We had no record that this package was scanned into the system,” Aubil said. “We went on a campus-wide search to different buildings that could have a 400-pound package just in case it was dropped off. I kept wondering, ‘How does anyone lose a 400-pound package?’

“After searching over and over again, we did find it—in the wrong place, but we found it. I must admit, my staff is good at finding packages.”

Stacey Thurston, residential mail and package coordinator for the Ravines Residential Mail & Package Center at GVSU, offered some insight on mail processing from a more hands-on perspective.

“Each day I have a hand in the processing of mail and packages and am there to handle any larger issues that may arise,” she said.

Thurston described the mail process and shared how paper mail and packages are handled differently.

“Paper mail is delivered each morning from USPS, or the Allendale Post Office, and we check each piece of mail to make sure that it has a room number and living center address,” she said. “We then sort the mail by living center, and it is delivered to community desks for distribution.”

Thurston said mail delivery was a higher priority since it must be delivered the same day it arrives.

Packages, however, must be scanned into the system to doubly ensure their appropriate delivery.

“We receive between 350 to 500 packages on the average day,” Thurston said. “As packages arrive, they are logged into our package tracking system using the full name and address listed on the package. (Once) logged, it is then stored on shelves that are organized in alphabetical order, and the package tracking system automatically notifies the resident that a package has arrived.”

Thurston also spoke to the accuracy and efficiency of the mail system at GVSU.

“For the academic year of fall 2016 to winter 2017, two packages have been lost, and students have been reimbursed,” she said.