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Students wait to pick up packages at the Harnwell mailroom on Sept. 1. Credit: Ana Glassman

Students have been back on campus for more than a week — but due to mailroom delays, some still don't have sheets to sleep in.

Campus mailrooms have been flooded with packages, prompting delays and leaving students without essential dorm items. Though Director of Residential Services Patrick Killilee wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian that the turnaround time from when a package is received and then made available for pickup by the student is “currently at a day and [a] half," some students said they have been waiting days or weeks to receive their packages. 

College first year Jacqueline Gomez said they have been waiting for weeks for a package containing necessary items like sheets and mattress pads to be made available for pickup. The package, initially supposed to be delivered in August, arrived in July — but Gomez still hasn't been notified that their package is ready for pickup. 

Gomez, who lives in the Quad, said a mailroom employee told them to go to the Harrison mailroom first, but they were then re-directed to the Quad mailroom in hopes that their package would be there. They still have not been able to receive the package, and they have had to borrow a pillow and sheets from their roommate in the meantime. 

“They just keep telling me that they're looking for it, but at this point, I just don't want to buy my stuff again,” Gomez said. 

Killilee wrote that the mailrooms have received more than 14,000 packages since Aug. 16, adding that move-in is one of the busiest periods for mail and delays are typical. The mailrooms receive and give out about 1,000 packages a day, Killilee wrote, and many students order up to 10-15 packages.

Penn's mailrooms came under similar criticism last semester when students faced delays that lasted more than a week. 

A College junior who requested to remain anonymous has faced a similar issue to Gomez — his missing packages, which he scheduled to be delivered when he moved in in August, include his sheets, kitchen supplies, and blankets. He has attempted multiple times to receive his package from the mailroom but has had no luck. He said that mailroom employees seem to be equally confused about where his package is.

The College junior decided to re-purchase the items from his original order so he could sleep comfortably in his bed in Rodin College House. 

“It's not really fair or cool that I have to pay extra technically, since I had to go to Target and buy supplies such as pillows or blankets or sheets so that I’m able to sleep, since I had already ordered all these things,” the College junior said. 

The College junior, who just transferred to Penn this year from the University of Florida, said he had never experienced delays before, even at his previous, much larger university.  

“I never experienced that at [the University of Florida] where there were [more than] 50,000 students. I think that maybe since they’re a bigger campus, they may have better management, from where every package comes in, so there's not this delay which is really bad for us as customers."

Killilee wrote that some delays may be because students are entering incorrect address information since many are new to their residences, which prompts mailroom staff to take additional time to identify the correct student. 

To accommodate the large numbers of packages, Penn opened satellite locations — including one in Rodin College House — to expand the mail delivery options beyond the two mailroom locations in Hill College House and Harnwell College House. 

Killilee wrote that a new process for delivering student mail was introduced last year in which mail delivery was centralized to just the Hill and Harnwell package centers. The new arrangement replaces the previous system in which each college house had its own mailroom.

“Once package volume declines, the satellite sites will be closed, and all packages will be either in a package locker or in Hill or Harnwell,” Killilee said.  

College junior Ruthanne Thongkai said she never experienced mailroom delays when she lived in Kings Court English College House during her first year, but now that she lives in Stouffer College House, she has been unable to receive her packages despite them having been delivered over a week ago. 

“My packages were delivered on Tuesday and I still haven't gotten them because they just can't find them," she said. "Last time I was there I was there for 40 minutes and they couldn’t find it, so I had to write down my name and phone number so they would call me when they found it and they just haven't called me,” she said.

Some students have also complained about hours-long lines when picking up their packages, which they have found frustrating.

"You go into Harnwell, and you see a line of more than two hours, which I've been standing in for a series of days, and have still been unable to get my package," the College junior said.