Alumna at UNR can’t get ‘snail mail’ at college

Snail mail: letters that are carried by conventional postal delivery services and characterized by their slow delivery speed. Now the Internet does it better.

So things are changing. The New Zealand Post will move to three-day delivery in some rural areas in June 2015 due to the rise of smartphones and the decline in letters. And there was even a rumor earlier this year that the United States Postal Service (USPS) would be cancelling Saturday mail delivery.

For college students, however, this form of delivery is still useful—it’s how they receive their care packages and birthday cards sent by loving moms and dads.

But at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), students who live in dorms are not assigned mailboxes for personal mail—meaning no snail mail delivery.

So as a freshman at UNR, Cori Locke, ’13,  has three options.

Option one: She can receive items through independent mail services such as UPS or FedEx. But this way is more complicated—and it costs more.

“I find it annoying at times,” Locke said. “It’s kind of a hassle to figure out how the thing you’re getting is being shipped.

“I had a problem when I tried to order boots from DSW. They send by FedEx, but since my address was not found as a USPS address, I couldn’t get past that error message to place the order.

“I tried to call to place the order, but after waiting on hold for 10 minutes, I gave up.”

And a friend of Locke’s, when trying to order something overnight, did not anticipate the complications and had her package returned, Locke said. When she finally did receive the package, it was three weeks late.

Option two: Locke can rent a Post Office box from the USPS office on campus for $72 a year. But, she says, the office is a  20- to 30-minute walk from her dorm.

So Locke goes with the third option—she just doesn’t receive anything.

“I have things shipped home and my parents bring (other things) up when they go to Tahoe, so I don’t really have a need for (a mailbox),” she said.

“I don’t know of anyone who has rented (a post office box). Most people are from Reno, so they can just pick things up from their house.”

According to Sheryl Hunnewell, supervisor of UNR mail services, the university cannot process personal mail because of state regulations stating that mail services can handle only business mail to university departments.

“(The school) lets all the students know on their orientation and in their student packets that they can get a P.O. box,” Hunnewell said, noting that UNR’s mailing system has been the same for at least 50 years and is unlikely to change.

“But as for (assigning P.O. boxes automatically to the students), housing (would) have to talk to the USPS to see if they can work on that.”

But Hunnewell said she’s not sure that can be accomplished, and Nailah, a student worker at the housing department, agrees.

“(It can’t be accomplished) simply because the university has nothing to do with the USPS,” Nailah said.

“We can’t just go in and start assigning P.O. boxes to students. The students have to go in and purchase their own P.O. box—that’s how the postal service works. It has nothing to do with the university.

“We don’t have control or access to the USPS. We don’t have a deal or anything.”

However, at Stanford University, although students don’t have mailboxes in their dorms, each student is assigned a P.O. box at the beginning of the school year.

Nailah said there are around 3,000 students living on campus at UNR, and the post office is located conveniently on campus.

Multiple calls to that office went unanswered. One woman who did answer refused to comment or be interviewed.

Students at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, are luckier.

Though the mail services at UNLV, are affected by the same regulation, UNLV mail technician Phil Louis said students can receive personal mail through a separate mailing system at the dorms.

“(The students) actually have mailboxes over at Residential Life (the dorms), and (personal mail) goes to them strictly and specifically,” Louis said.

If Locke lives in UNR on-campus rental properties, such as apartments, next year, she will be able to receive personal mail.

Some alumni say they couldn’t do without their snail mail.

Grace Mehta, ‘12, and Richard Whitney, ‘12, attend George Washington University and Williams College, respectively. Both were assigned student mailboxes by their schools.

Mehta said she uses and checks her mailbox regularly because her grandmother sends her letters. And Whitney said student mailboxes are a must at Williams.

“Having a snail mail address is next to essential up here,” Whitney said. “Since we’re in pretty much the middle of nowhere, is most students’ go-to source for just about everything.”


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