The recent technological upgrades and changes around campus seem to promise greater efficiency, shorter lines and less consumer and environmental waste. From the new package system with digital tracking and the new cash registers in the Bison to the operating system and software upgrades on the library computers, the innovations and adjustments are numerous. But all of these changes cause us to reflect on the degree to which change is necessary and the ways to improve the implementation of change.

Students now receive e-mail alerts when they have a package ready for pickup. In the previous system, students received an orange slip in their mailboxes notifying them of current parcels stashed in the mailroom.  According to the e-mail they receive, students need only bring their student ID and a copy of the e-mail to the mailroom. Students then sign a touchpad electronically to receive their packages. The process is supposed to cut down on paper waste and make it easier to retrieve parcels.

How much the new procedure cuts down on waste, both physical and temporal, remains dubious. During the first weeks of implementation, many students experienced longer lines and delays during peak student mailroom hours as mail services employees tried to figure out how to use the new touchpad device and tracking system.

Moreover, confusion remains about what constitutes a “copy” of the e-mail notification. Many students believe they must print a physical copy of the message before going retrieving a package. Printing hard copies for the thousands of packages processed each year certainly would not fulfill the promise of making a greater green effort. In fact, it would probably generate more waste than the old system of placing reusable orange slips in student mailboxes. The problem of printing is only exacerbated by the current lack of functioning printers on campus, leading to unnecessary frustration and wasted time.

Another issue is the overwhelming number of e-mails students receive daily. Bombarded with so many e-mails from the Message Center, professors, friends, classmates and now the mailroom, students can easily become overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of messages waiting in their inboxes.  Unclaimed packages could then accumulate, actually taking up space and inhibiting efficiency.

The new system cannot yet process all of the packages so students must still check their mailboxes for the little orange slips. The hybrid system is confusing, causing many students to question how many packages they have and whether or not they should actually approach the mail counter.

Of course, the new system has its perks. Students can find out where their package is at any time simply by providing the tracking number to student mail services. But for now, the cons outweigh the advantages. While the change is headed in the right direction, the lack of training for staff members and the overall muddled implementation leave much room for improvement. When making any technological change on campus, we only ask that the University provide proper training  and maintain a contingency plan in order to avoid potential disaster.

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