Delays, unclear communication frustrate students seeking to retrieve belongings

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Numerous undergraduates who left items on campus after an abrupt end to winter quarter report they still haven’t received their personal belongings, with some citing unclear communication from Collegeboxes as exacerbating their inability to retrieve their belongings.

The University is aware of delays, wrote Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE) spokesperson Jocelyn Breeland, and encouraged students who encountered difficulties to contact the University through the email address [email protected]. In a Sept. 14 email, R&DE wrote they “anticipate” student shipping requests will be fulfilled by Sept. 30.

A spokesperson from Collegeboxes wrote in a statement to The Daily that delays are a result of the “thousands” of additional requests from Stanford students “following the cancellation of in-person classes for autumn quarter.”

Stanford originally began large-scale move-out operations around March and contracted U-Haul subsidiary Collegeboxes to ship most student items home. Additional third-party vendors were contracted to transport larger items, and the belongings of over 3,000 students have been packed, according to Breeland.

Sajan Mehrotra ’23, who has written for The Daily, wrote in an email to The Daily that when he inquired about his belongings, the moving services “weren’t sure” where his stuff was. When he finally received confirmation his room had been packed up, he received contradicting reports as to how many boxes he would receive.

Mehrotra called the company’s messaging “explicitly contradictory,” citing contrasting information from the website and multiple conversations with the Collegeboxes spokesperson.

“One person told me they would ship [my items] soon, and that the University was paying for shipping so there was nothing I had to do,” Mehrotra wrote. “The next person told me Collegeboxes is pretty backed up, that my stuff will be shipped at some undermined date, and that they could not do anything until I’ve given them a credit card to pay for shipping since the University is not paying for it.”

Breeland wrote that students are “not required to pay for shipping if the University packed up their items.”

A viral TikTok by Sophia Andrikopoulos ’21 shows her opening a box with items shipped to her by Stanford. Inside of it, her speaker, monitor, and multiple glass items appear damaged or broken. Andrikopoulos was not available for comment.

A Stanford senior’s video on TikTok has received over 2,000,000 views. (Screenshot: SAM CATANIA/The Stanford Daily)

A spokesperson from Collegeboxes called the incident “unfortunate,” saying “it pains us when that happens.” If students receive items that were damaged, both Breeland and Collegeboxes recommended that students contact Collegeboxes immediately and, if appropriate, file a damage claim.

“The University insured student belongings through Collegeboxes and there is additional insurance through the shipping company as well,” Breeland wrote.

Other students raised concerns about inconsistent communication and lack of check-ins from the University and Collegeboxes. Ilhan Osman ’21 wrote in an email to The Daily that the University only moved her items into storage after numerous emails, phone calls and much confusion. 

“Once they finally picked up the box it actually arrived at my house pretty quickly,” Osman wrote. “That entire experience was such a hassle and I still genuinely don’t know if all of my stuff is in storage because there’s no way they can confirm it which is pretty worrisome.”

Trip Master ’21 said he had a similar experience as Osman, facing unclear communication from Stanford, and described the experience as frustrating.

Master had to delay the pick-up of his campus belongings until September due to a summer job. Even with the additional time, he still hadn’t received clear communication about how his items would be packed a week before his visit to campus. 

Master later told The Daily that he’d received word from Collegeboxes his items were now being packed: “Communication is key here,” he said.

Nevertheless, Osman, Mehrotra and Master expressed an understanding of the situation, given the global circumstances.

“I know that everyone’s struggling with organization right now, so I can understand how frustrating it must be on their end,” Master wrote.

Breeland said the University had communicated with students on “multiple occasions” about the process, citing 10 emails she said had been sent out to various groups of students between May and mid-September. “This has been an enormous task,” wrote Breeland.

The Collegeboxes spokesperson encouraged students to log into their accounts for shipping and storage status updates or contact the company. “The last thing we want is for students to be confused by the process,” the spokesperson wrote.

Breeland emphasized the complexity of the operations that went into packing and transporting the items for students.

“This large undertaking had to consider evolving county mandates… scheduling visits by students who wanted to pack themselves and maintaining physical distancing and other safety requirements,” Breeland wrote.

Contact Sam Catania at samcat ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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