Dead cats for biology. Frozen Omaha steaks for students. Cow eyeballs for optometry. The Pacific University mailroom in Forest Grove has seen some unusual packages.
Tucked away in the basement of the University Center (UC), the mailroom is a bustling hub of students sending and receiving mail. Packages and letters are constantly flowing in and out of the mail room, and it takes a whole staff of work study students and full time employees to process the mail and keep up with its day to day operations.
According to Mail Services Supervisor Donna Hepler, the mailroom has received 19,000 student packages since Sept. 1, 2018. When she first started working at the university 27 years ago, Hepler noticed the mailroom primarily received letters or flats. Now, the majority of the mail is packages. “The package volume has increased ten fold,” she said.
The dramatic increase of packages can be attributed to the rise of corporations like Amazon. With the ease of clicking a button and having a package arrive in a couple days, students receive food, medication, clothes, tvs, textbooks, and even furniture.
The mailroom has experienced a great deal of change. Originally crammed in the west corner of the UC, the mailroom moved to the basement over 10 years ago. Students used to have to share boxes which led to confusion. Relocating to the basement allowed mail services to give their students their own box and accommodate a greater volume of mail.
Packages are processed by student workers who write up and put away packages every morning. Freshman and mail services student worker Philip Seicianu enjoys the environment of his job. It is a place he feels included. “The people I work with are personal, friendly people,” he said. “I can get along with everybody whether they are similar or different to me.”
The staff in the mailroom work to make sure each student and faculty member feels comfortable and welcome in retrieving their mail. “We are here for students,” said Mailroom Clerk Arlene Adamson. “If students need someone to talk to, they can always talk to us.” Talking to students and learning about their lives is one of her favorite parts about working in the mailroom. She values the relationships she fosters in the workplace and finds it difficult to say goodbye when students graduate.
Mail services support students, even if it means staying up till midnight. At the beginning of each school year, mail services stay up late so that Hawaii students can pick up their bedding after a late flight. They send off passports for travel abroad. They ship packages back home to loved ones when students graduate. They help students return textbooks. “We do all the things behind the scenes to make life fall into place for students,” said Hepler. For more information about mail services visit https://www.pacificu.edu/about/pacific-directory/offices-departments/finance-administration/mail-services.