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Lost Mail and Delayed Packages Hinder Slingshot Mailroom Transition

Emma+Milam%2C+a+junior%2C+recevies+a+package+from+the+bookstore+on+October+11.+
Julian Perez
Emma Milam, a junior, recevies a package from the bookstore on October 11.

Emma Milam, a junior, ordered some batteries and a few other items from Amazon to be delivered to her during the first week of school. Amazon notified Milam when the package was delivered, but she never received the usual email that she had a package to pickup at the campus bookstore, run by Slingshot.

“They were said to have been delivered on a Thursday,” says Milam. “I had ordered other things too that were supposed to arrive afterwards, and I received those items, but almost a week went by and there was no sign of my batteries package.”

Milam eventually found her batteries, but only when Lydia DePatis, CUC’s coordinator for residential housing, emailed Milam that her batteries had been delivered to DePatis’ on-campus apartment.

“I’ve never had a mail mix-up like this happen until this year,” says Milam.

Until this Fall, the U.S. Postal Service processed that mail, but starting this school year, management of the mail system was handed over to Slingshot, the new course supplies provider at CUC.

“It helps to streamline the ‘guessing game’ of students wondering if they have mail/packages—they receive an email only when they have an item in the store,” says Amanda Allen, the Slingshot bookstore manager at CUC who helps oversee the mail system.

Early in 2023, CUC administration announced that the bookstore would change providers from Barnes & Noble to Slingshot. While much of the attention around the switch to Slingshot was focused on how the physical bookstore would change, Slingshot’s takeover also affected the mail delivery system at CUC. 

The Postal Service delivered mail to the school’s physical plant, which was then transported to the post office in the lower level of the Koehneke Community Center for sorting. To receive their mail, students would go to the P.O. boxes where they would either pick up their parcel—like letters or small packages—or a hand in a slip of paper at the counter for larger packages.

P.O. boxes are now obsolete. The mail room itself is no longer used for pickup. Instead, students receive an email that they have mail, then they can pick it up from the Slingshot bookstore in the basement of the Koehneke Community Center. 

Many of the colleges that use Slingshot—which includes large institutions like University of Louisville and schools smaller than CUC, such as Montreat College in North Carolina—allow the company to take over their mail room system, Allen says. 

Many of the faces students see in the bookstore haven’t changed. “The same people that were working in the mail room can be found in the Campus Store now,” says Allen. “Just a change of management companies.”

Slingshot did, however, turn over some previous employees in the transition.

“I am no longer working there because the new company wouldn’t hire me again, despite me working for the mail room for two years (freshman year to sophomore year),” says junior Cara Diaz. “Me and my former boss have no idea why they wouldn’t hire me since they kept my co-worker, and they hired someone else.” 

While in the mail room, Diaz’s job was to fill out and sort the slips that students would use to pick up their packages. She also attended to students coming up to the counter and delivered mail to departments around campus. 

Diaz learned that management of the mail room in the beginning of last spring, but her coworkers and her were unaware of what those changes would be. Diaz was also kept in the dark as for why the changes were initiated.

“I never got any reasoning for the company changes, but we suppose they are trying to implement a more modern system,” says Diaz. 

In Milam’s case, she also has qualms with how Slingshot handled a postcard she received from a friend studying abroad in France. Not only did Milam get her postcard roughly a week after others received their cards, but the postcard was impossible to read on one side.

“They decided to put the huge sticker directly in the middle of the postcard, covering basically all of it,” says Milam. “It was a nightmare to take off, and there’s still sticky residue on it, and it just seems like there could have been a better way to go about placing it or having one at all.”

When notified of the sticker problem, Allen said she had not heard of that complaint yet, but she has already made her team aware of the issue and it should not occur again. Slingshot puts a sticker with a barcode on all the packages they process.

Giana Garofalo, a sophomore on the dance team, has also experienced problems with Slingshot’s services.

“My package was under someone else’s name and so was my teammate’s package,” says Garofalo. “I also had a package delivered a few days ago and haven’t received it yet.”

Allen says some of those misplaced packages were never touched by Slingshot. “We only deliver a very small portion of actual packages around campus, and those are only small faculty packages,” says Allen. “All other faculty packages are delivered to the respective area by Physical Plant.”

Despite issues, students have noted some improvements the new system brings. Senior Justin Headley is a secondary education major who is currently student teaching at Lyons Township High School in Western Springs. “I prefer the new system, because certain websites would not ship to a P.O. Box,” says Headley. “This way, it allows me to use all my online shopping options instead of being pigeonholed in the juggernaut of Amazon.” 

But Headley’s teaching schedule makes it impossible for him to visit the bookstore and get his mail during business hours. 

“As someone currently working an internship, I would appreciate if there was one day a week they were open later so I could get my own mail instead of writing someone a letter to get mine,” says Headley.

Shroll said that she prefers getting an email notifying students of their mail’s arrival opposed to having to safe guard a P.O. box key. However, since the store’s checkout counter is the same place students pick up mail, students who are picking up mail can get caught behind students purchasing bookstore items. Shroll says she once waited 15 minutes to get her mail.

“I wish I didn’t have to go into the bookstore and could still just go to the mail room,” says Shroll.

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About the Contributors
Peter Borkowski, Reporter
Julian Perez, Photographer