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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Mailroom transition threatens Brandeis family

Published: August 22, 2014
Section: Editorials

As reported in today’s news section, Brandeis University has lost several members of the campus family over the summer. Due to the mailroom’s switch in ownership, we will be losing, among others, Bill “The Singing Mailman” Bowen and Nancy Landry, who have worked at the university for 35 and 28 years, respectively.

This is a blow to all of us. As members of the Brandeis community, we at The Hoot enjoy and encourage the unique nature of this campus—particularly figures like “The Singing Mailman,” that make us feel as though we are part of a larger family. The friendliness and helpfulness of the mailroom employees was something that Brandeis students came to expect and appreciate.

At every year’s Admitted Students’ Day and during the many speeches given to new Brandeis students, a huge emphasis is placed on the idea of the “Brandeis family” and a community comprised of everyone on campus, not just students. Brandeis is also a university that prides itself on social justice and making sure that it is a safe and constructive environment. Tossing aside loyal employees, as well as the millions of dollars spent by the university on retirement buyouts last year, disputes this idea, and opposes the image that Brandeis wishes to promote. It also provides a mixed, fickle message to the Brandeis student body as to what to expect.

The change to Xerox is also impractical. Mailroom employees will now be paid much less and work by the hour. They will have diminished interaction with students, which will most likely result in a less motivated staff. A low hourly wage of $10.50 an hour is not enough of an incentive to make staff strive for perfection, and packages may end up getting lost. This transition will also make going to the mailroom devoid of the unique personality Brandeis once had. The longtime Brandeis staff served the university well, oftentimes trekking back to Brandeis on weekends and holidays as a favor to students in dire need of a package, and this tradition will end, as well.

The Hoot understands that financial frugality and responsibility is in the best interests of Brandeis. However, this is not an excuse for creating an increasingly mundane, by-the-numbers atmosphere at school. This is not an excuse for abandoning people like Bowen who had stood by Brandeis for years out of loyalty and trust. One of the many things Brandeis students used to be able to brag about their university was that it had employees who cared about the school and the students they saw every day. Sadly, it does not seem that Brandeis itself is interested in the same.