|Office of the Chancellor / Public Affairs||
Monday, November 1, 2004
Los Angeles Daily News 10-31-04
The postman only rings once under new CSUN system
Tight budgets have forced CSUN to cut its on-campus mail
deliveries to just once a day, infuriating instructors who say urgent
parcels -- like boxes of live crickets and specimens frozen in dry ice
-- are getting lost in piles of delayed post.
"Once-a-day mail service has simply not been adequate and has affected the operation of the department and the campus in a number of negative ways," said Charles Macune, chairman of the History Department at California State University, Northridge.
While some departments have reported no problems under the new system -- which took effect in July -- the delays are especially troublesome for departments like biology that rely on shipments of live animals and temperature-sensitive materials.
"We get 5,000 live crickets delivered a week, and when the package isn't delivered promptly, the crickets eat through the cardboard," said Ed Koprowski, instructional support technician for the Biology Department.
"If we don't have crickets, our frogs go hungry."
The box of crickets costs about $90, Koprowski said, but packages containing biological specimens, such as DNA material, and temperature-sensitive chemicals can range from $600 to several thousand dollars.
"These chemicals are very expensive, and very temperature sensitive -- a few degrees rise in temperature renders them inactive," Koprowski said.
At least six packages arrived at the department last summer with no dry ice, he noted. So far, Koprowski hasn't heard of any specimens that were ruined, but he's concerned it could happen in the future.
Despite the complaints, CSUN's physical plant director Tom Brown said the switch to one-day delivery was part of a reorganization of the mail service that has actually made package deliveries more efficient and saved the university more than $200,000.
"Every afternoon, that (loading) dock is clear," Brown said, adding that packages often sat for a day before the reorganization.
In July, the loose mail and parcel departments -- which had a combined staff of 23 -- were merged into a single unit of just 10 staff, Brown said. He added that the reorganization and the one-day delivery service is consistent with most campuses.
Of the 23 CSU campuses, only CSUN and two others had mail delivered and picked up twice a day, officials said. UCLA still gets twice-a-day delivery service.
"We have a large responsibility to the customers we serve, but we also have a huge responsibility to the taxpayers, and I'm convinced it was the right thing to do," Brown said.
But some departments say some of their staff have had to become part-time mail carriers to make up for what they call a decline in service.
"It means (department staff) have to personally deliver things that are time-sensitive, documents that need to go from one end of campus to another, and they simply can't count on that happening," Macune said.
Macune said he has fielded complaints from staff in several other departments, who complain that the changes are forcing them to take time away from their duties to deliver items themselves.
A Chemistry Department staff member, who declined to give her name, said the department frequently has Fed-Ex, UPS and next-day air packages that sit for a day if they miss the once-a-day pickup.
"We have things that need to go out, very important documents dated today that need to go out today," such as grant applications, letters of recommendation and confidential letters regarding students, she said.
Other CSUN departments said they haven't experienced any problems.
"We do understand they had to cut it down to one pickup a day for economic reasons, but it's not the end of the world," said Brian Malec, chairman of the Health Sciences Department. "We're fine with it, we've had no issues, no faculty complaints."
"As long as we get it picked up and delivered once a day, we're OK with that," said David Moon, chairman of the Art Department.
These news clips are provided by the Public Affairs Department of The California State University. They are intended for the internal use of The California State University system and should not be redistributed. Questions and submissions may be sent to email@example.com.