News

Graduate students grow frustrated with UG2 mail services following missing and delayed packages

May 24, 2022, 12:41 a.m.

When Billy Eck J.D. ’23 ordered a $225 package during winter quarter, he anticipated a seamless pick-up following a short walk to the Graduate Package Center (GPC). To his surprise, a routine process morphed into a two-month journey that involved a dozen emails to and from Stanford’s Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE).

FedEx notified Eck that his package was delivered to the GPC on Feb. 23. However, Eck said GPC staff told him his package never arrived and that he was ineligible for reimbursement. On May 2, he obtained proof of delivery, showing that the package was signed for by a GPC employee, and received compensation for the missing package.

Eck is not alone in his experience with mailing difficulties. Many graduate students have complained of missing packages, slow delivery times and a generally unreliable mailing system. The newest cases of mailing mishaps come amid continued student frustrations with the graduate package system. Such issues have been the subject of multiple Graduate Student Council (GSC) meetings, including a May 11 meeting in which councilors questioned the viability of Stanford’s partnership with UG2, Stanford’s mail provider, given student complaints. 

In the month of April, graduate students filed 24 reports of missing mail, according to R&DE Executive Director of Strategic Communications Jocelyn Breeland. 11 of those packages were not delivered due to incomplete information on the label, while 10 others were delivered to the wrong address by the carriers, which include Amazon, FedEx and USPS, Breeland said. Two of the inquiries concerned the incorrect locker placement of packages, according to Breeland.

All but one eventually found their way to their recipient, and UG2 refunded the resident who never received their package, Breeland said, adding that “almost all of these cases involved a package that was not addressed properly or was delivered by the carrier to the wrong address.” UG2 also filed a police report with the Department of Public Safety for suspected theft following an April 25 message to students from R&DE about a “recent spate of undelivered packages in February and March,” Breeland wrote. The investigation remains open, according to Breeland.

Breeland recommended that students report missing packages to packageandmailse[email protected]. After doing so, UG2 will investigate the matter and issue a refund if the package was received by UG2 and can no longer be found, according to her.

In addition to lost packages, some said they experienced delays in receiving important documentation due to issues with mail delivery. Chemical engineering postdoctoral researcher Xi Chen said he was notified that his renewed Chinese passport arrived at the GPC on May 3, despite USPS indicating that it was delivered on April 26. First-year aeronautics and astronautics Ph.D. candidate Emiko Soroka also said that GPC staff were unable to find her health insurance card for weeks and that she later saw it placed in front of her apartment door. She presumed another graduate student, who mistakenly received the package, left it there. It is unclear whether the difficulties were directly related to processing or delivery errors made by R&DE and UG2.

Breeland wrote that “timely, secure mail delivery is a priority” for UG2 and R&DE. “We care about students’ wellbeing and we understand the vital role that mail and package delivery plays in the lives of students on campus.”

Flyers have been posted around campus demanding that the University address the mailing issues, with one flyer reading “R&DE LOSES STUDENTS’ MAIL AND LIES ABOUT IT.”

sign that reads "R&DE LOSES STUDENT MAIL AND LIES ABOUT IT"

Flyers have been posted around campus demanding that the University address mailing issues. One flyer reads “R&DE LOSES STUDENTS’ MAIL AND LIES ABOUT IT.” (LUC ALVAREZ/The Stanford Daily)

The University, in collaboration with mailing providers, is taking steps to remedy student concerns, according to Breeland. U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA-18) led a May 8 meeting with leaders from R&DE, UG2 and USPS to discuss the issues, and the group of leaders established a USPS point of contact for all matters regarding student mail at Stanford, Breeland wrote. R&DE encourages students who have had mail returned to complete a brief questionnaire so that the point of contact can investigate why the decision to return was made, according to Breeland.

Despite these developments, many graduate students remain frustrated with a lack of transparency from UG2 and a seemingly constant state of flux in regards to the GPC’s reliability. 

Soroka said that her prior experiences with mailing difficulties make her question Stanford’s decision to continue working with UG2. “I don’t understand it — I don’t know what the administration is thinking,” she said.

Eck encouraged students to make their voices heard to R&DE until changes are made.

“I think my advice would be to make things more difficult for R&DE by CC’ing them every time you have a complaint,” Eck said. “Just make sure that R&DE knows how many mistakes are happening and make it annoying for R&DE to the point that they have to do something about it.”

This article has been updated to include more details about the April reports of missing packages.

Contact Luc at news ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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