Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor

Schuyler House's service center has been closed since Aug. 21, leaving residents to travel to Cascadilla Hall to receive mail.

August 28, 2023

Schuyler House Service Center Closed After Move-In, Residents Directed to Cascadilla Hall

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When Joshua Park ’26, a newly-transferred student to Cornell, arrived at his dorm assignment in Schuyler House, he was able to pick up his room keys from the conveniently located mailroom on the main floor of the 125-resident building. But when his espresso machine arrived in the mail a few days later, he had to lug it the 10-minute hilly walk from Cascadilla Hall.

“It would have been much nicer if the mailroom was open, especially because Schuyler House itself has a lot of hills, and going up and down with packages is quite difficult,” Park said.

But walking 10 minutes each way for mail and key services is the new reality for residents of Schuyler House, one of the farthest dorms from campus. While the residence hall used to sport a fully functional service center, that mailroom closed Aug. 21 following this semester’s move-in period and residents must now utilize the service center in Cascadilla Hall.

“Due to the small number of packages delivered to the Schuyler Service Center, that location was closed for the time being and service has been transitioned to the Cascadilla Service Center,” Brandi M. Smith-Berger, associate director for Conference and Event Services, said in a statement to The Sun. “This location offers more service hours for residents and additional staffing. We are looking into opportunities to bring mail services back to the Schuyler community, but at the moment, we are servicing the residents through Cascadilla.”

Residents were provided justification for the closure in an Aug. 23 email from graduate resident advisor Joseph Giliberto.

“The reason for the closure is because the service center department does not have a full-time staff member to manage the service center, this in turn means that no students can be hired to cover night/weekend shifts because they would not have a supervisor,” Giliberto wrote in an email obtained by The Sun. “They felt that it would [be] best to have all of the packages for Schuyler go to Casc[adilla] because it is able to operate on a “full time” schedule thus allowing residents to access their packages/mail on a more consistent basis.”

Chiedza Musiiwa ’24, who worked in the Schuyler mailroom last school year alongside two other student employees, was skeptical that the move of the Schuyler mailroom to Cascadilla Hall was actually due to a desire to increase hours for Schuyler residents, saying that the only difference between the Schuyler House mailroom and the Cascadilla Hall mailroom is that the Cascadilla service center is open Sundays.

“I felt like the hours are fairly reasonable. I think we were open [at Schuyler] for way too long, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., so there was plenty of time for people to pick up packages. It was never an issue,” Musiiwa said. “So the whole thing about them wanting to offer us more hours — it’s probably because you know, since this is a fairly quiet building, they just want to cut staff down.”

Residents of Schuyler who spoke to The Sun said the closure brings an added inconvenience to living in an already far dorm from campus. While Schuyler is just an eight minute walk from the Ithaca Commons, it is a 20 minute uphill walk to McGraw Tower.

“It’s a burden. Now you have to go out and go to Cascadilla. Some of our packages are pretty big, so we’ll have to walk downhill in the winter, which may be a safety hazard,” resident Angel Zhou ’26 said. “I know a couple of people from the dorm have been trying to ask the administration to reconsider, but they sent out an official email that it’s not going to happen.”

Schuyler House resident Alyssa Fitzgerald ’25 told The Sun that while her friend has a car to help her transport heavy packages from Cascadilla, she feels bad asking him repeatedly for favors. Fitzgerald said she is nervous about Ithaca’s cold winters and what that will mean for traveling between Schuyler House and Cascadilla Hall.

For Musiiwa, a second-time resident of Schuyler House, the mailroom’s closure disrupted the convenience of being able to work close to home. 

“I was a little bit upset about [being transferred] at first because it was just really easy for me to work here [at Schuyler House],” Musiiwa said. “But now I work in between classes. Not the greatest, but I can still get work done.”

Musiiwa said she worked at the Schuyler House mailroom during move-in this semester before being transferred to the Willard Straight Hall Service Center. But she said that since the move, there has not been clear communication with mail carriers, resulting in residents’ packages being delivered to a variety of locations.

“I know there’s some confusion on what address to put down. Some people think they can keep putting Schuyler down on their packages, but that’s not true — not all the mail carriers know [to deliver to Cascadilla],” Musiiwa said. “We’ve had a couple packages sitting outside… if it gets stolen, nobody’s responsible because you put the wrong address on there. I’ve been trying to remind people in the building, ‘Please, put Cascadilla on there,’ but some stuff still ends up here.”

“I know that this is very frustrating and extremely inconvenient,” Giliberto said in his email. He suggested that residents organize a car-pool to drive to Cascadilla Hall on a semi-frequent basis. “This would be particularly helpful when residents get heavy packages, or the weather is bad and walking up/down the hill could be dangerous. As a note RAs are not allowed to drive residents due to liability issues.”