Off-campus students lose mailbox privileges


Non-resident students will no longer have personal mailboxes in University post offices, as the school is only providing them for on-campus students starting this year.

The change will help streamline costs in communication between the school and students, said Director of Mail and Document Services Jesse Rambo via e-mail correspondence. It will also allow messages to get to students in a more efficient way, since e-mail reaches the recipient quickly, and is easily traceable.

"Our model sought to ensure students received critical messages and notices in a timely, cost-effective and absolute manner," Rambo said.

The University is also seeking to cut paper costs and will rely on e-mail messaging and Web sites to get messages out to off-campus students, he said, and added cutting paper use will have a positive environmental impact.

But, while non-residents must seek their snail mail elsewhere, on-campus residents have avoided getting booted from the post office for practical reasons.

"Students living on campus are provided mailbox service because this is where they live, and, as such, having a Rutgers address is the only way they can receive mail," Rambo said.

Non-residents often receive mail where they live rather than at the University post offices and tend to avoid using their University address, he said.

Mail and Document Services faces a funding cap that forces the department to limit what it can offer students, which contributed the decision to cut back on paper and printing costs, Rambo said.

"Given our projected level of resources, we had to make decisions, difficult ones, regarding our service levels," he said.

But the primary motivation for the move was not because of University budget cuts: It was to create a cost-effective system, he said.

The University began discussions a year ago about the mail service and researched communications networks at other schools, Rambo said.

The Rutgers Newark and Camden administrations both reach out to students via electronic messaging, he said. Rambo added that research found many higher education institutions provide mailboxes to residents only, such as Michigan State, Northern Arizona, University of Connecticut, Kansas State University, Duke University and the University of Albany.

Rambo said research found e-mail is more convenient, timely and reliable. He also said he does not know whether students respond more to e-mail messages than those given out via snail mail, but noted that the new policy received little criticism.

"So far, this has been a fairly seamless transition, as most understand the practicability associated with our actions," he said.

But School of Arts and Sciences junior Lisa Marie Agresti, an off-campus resident living on Louis Street, said it is more convenient to have everything in one place, right on campus territory.

"I'd prefer having the post office next to the other buildings," she said, adding that she could check her mail during the day between classes.

But off-campus Rutgers College junior Daniel Young, an Easton Avenue resident, said he agrees with the change. He said he lived off campus during his entire stay at the University.

"I haven't checked my mailbox in two years," he said.


Michelle Walbaum

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