Dec 6th, 2023, 12:00 PM

Mailroom Makeover

By Lilly Mildenberger
Image Credit: Lilly Mildenberger
A student-led initiative to improve AUP's mail services

AUP's mail service operates on Rue St. Dominique, where packages from all around the world are received and distributed. Despite the seemingly beneficial service, the AUP campus mail room has become a point of contention in recent years. Student complaints have been directed towards the organization, security measures and the overall mail collection experience.

Numerous grievances concerning the mail room revolve around the inconvenience of the appointment system initially implemented during the COVID-19 era, which requires students to make an appointment to pick up any package larger than a letter. Many students argue that the system, while once a necessity, is now overly rigid without apparent justification. In response to these concerns, Morgan Smith, the Graduate President of the Student Government Association, has spearheaded an initiative aimed at addressing these issues. 

From her perspective, the mail room stands as an indispensable student service. This is because numerous students are not well-acquainted with the French postal system, and those in apartments without package collection points are faced with the post office's limited operational hours. She aims to improve the mail room services stating, “Ever since I first took an SGA position [a year ago], I had students complaining to me that this was something they wanted to see fixed. Specifically, students who were here before COVID-19, before the appointment system ever happened just felt like the system was a waste of time and a barrier to them receiving their belongings.” 

Image Credit: Lilly Mildenberger 

This barrier can be illustrated through AUP student Ava Westlake’s experience two years ago after having an invasive procedure on her hip. She says, “Once a month I would get a box sent from Chicago that had medicine and supplies I needed for physical therapy and time-sensitive things. One time, my package was delivered on a Friday, but I didn't get a notification that it had arrived until later in the afternoon, so when I went to book an appointment, there wasn't anything available. I needed my medication for the weekend, so I went in without my appointment time. There was nobody in the Saint Dominique building—not a student, no one—just one of the office workers, and he was sitting in his office. I knocked on the door and opened it, and he refused to see me unless I had a scheduled appointment. My box was sitting on the table, literally next to me, with my name on it. I had proof it was my package and needed to pick it up, and he wouldn’t give it to me. I then explained that it was important because I had medication in it that I needed after my surgery. He said I would be able to get it the following week, but he refused to let me have proof of the appointment.”

While Westlake's experience did indeed breach the mail room's appointment policy, it serves as an illustration of why students should be allowed flexibility to retrieve their belongings without being bound by rigid time constraints. This is particularly crucial as many received packages contain important items that cannot be purchased in France, such as visa documentation, credit cards, prescription medications and supplies for diabetic students. In situations where there are no other students present and the items in question are essential, many students believe the mail room should adopt more lenient policies and demonstrate greater understanding, particularly when urgent assistance is required. 

President Smith has worked with the mail room to devise a pilot solution that addresses these student concerns. Beginning on November 20th, 2023, the mail room introduced walk-in times, supplementing the pre-existing appointment system. From Monday through Friday, students now have the option to walk in and collect their mail between 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM and in the afternoon from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM.

Although other concerns have not been fully addressed, such as the security of the mail room as well as the overall experience with the mail room staff members, hopefully, this new system will reduce the stress associated with package pick up. Smith also notes how this system is truly a work in progress. If students still have concerns about getting their mail, they should write to Smith at A form will be sent out at the end of the semester, and students are encouraged to give their full and honest feedback. This initiative may improve the mail collection experience to come.