US Post Office shuts down campus branch

Beginning on Sept. 1, the Vassar Post Office in the College Center implemented some significant changes. The post office will no longer provide retail services for outbound personal mail, such as sales of postage stamps and package processing. While it will continue to accept outbound personal mail that already has the correct postage applied, any outbound personal mail that requires weighing or special services must now be sent from the Arlington branch post office which is located on Raymond Avenue or any other US post office. These changes began in April when the US Postal Service notified Vassar that they intended to terminate Vassar’s contract and remove the retail operations from Vassar’s campus in order to reduce expenses. Vassar began to subsidize the retail operations on campus with general operating funds. However, after review by the senior officers and the Committee on Priorities and Planning, Vassar decided that it was necessary to terminate the service in order to cut costs, especially in light of Vassar’s continued effort to minimize expenses and allow for more efficient financial operations. These changes only affect the cash and credit walk-up sales at the retail window of the post office and will not have an effect on incoming mail or outbound department mail. FedEx shipping will still be provided through the Purchasing department and the on-campus FedEx drop box will remain in service. Additionally, USPS has changed their schedule for picking up mail and will now be collecting Vassar’s mail around noon each day instead of 4:30p.m. as under the old model, according to manager of the Vassar post office, John Viola. The Post Office sent an email to the Vassar community in August outlining these changes in order to make students aware of the new policies before they arrived on campus. According to Viola it seems that so far most people are aware of the changes in service and the transition, though not ideal, is moving along relatively smoothly considering the circumstances under which it is taking place. “While it’s always unfortunate to change services, this was a good opportunity for Vassar to reduce expenses without impacting services core to its educational mission. Vassar is lucky to have a USPS branch so close to campus which helps reduce the impact of change,” said Viola. Many students have expressed concerns about the new changes. Ava Sadeghi ’15 described her struggle attempting to return an item she had bought and mailed to herself. Sadeghi did not have the stamps to send her package back to the producer and get her money back, so she was unable to utilize the Vassar post office. Sadeghi recognized the fact that the current mailing situation is still not overly difficult while also pointing out the ways in which the change in policy has been a disservice to Vassar students. “It’s not a big deal since the Arlington post office is really close by, but it was definitely more convenient when the whole process could be done on campus.” Despite her concerns, Sadeghi still understood the need to cut back on Vassar’s spending. “I don’t think the post office service is too significant of a resource. It is better to cut this service than something that students really value and that makes an impact on their educational experience,” she said. Another student, Geli Periera ’14 expressed her frustrations. She said, “This policy takes away from the idea of an on-campus post office even further. The post office already did not have the normal hours of a post office, and now they don’t sell stamps, which all local post offices do, so it makes it hard to label it as an on-campus post office.” Geli continued, offering concern for the developments withing the post office and thinking critically about the student response. “I just think people will be frustrated now that it doesn’t provide them with things that a normal post office would.” Others remain unfazed by the new policy and believe that as more people become aware of the new policy, they will learn to prepare packages themselves and the result will be a sharp decline in the reliance of students on the post office for those services. Austin Khym ’15 said, “So many things are done electronically these days that there is not really a need for face-toface interaction at the retail window.” He continued, “And now that people know about the new policy they can start bringing stamps from home for when they want to mail things as opposed to buying them at the window. There is no difference in price so it is not really an inconvenience.” However, Khym saw an issue with the new USPS hours. “Having such an early pickup time for mail could really start to throw people off because they may wake up later or have class during that time and not be able to make it to main to drop off their mail.” He continued, “4:30 is a much more manageable time and I think more people would be able to make that deadline for dropping off mail.”

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