SDSU should bring mailboxes back to campus

by Willem Quigley, Contributor

Despite maintaining an enrollment of nearly 35,000  students, there is not a single United States Postal Service mailbox on San Diego State’s campus. During the 2019-2020 school year, there was a mailbox on the corner of Lindo Paseo and Campanile Drive. Upon going to drop off my ballot in late October, I came to realize this mailbox had been removed. 

According to the Postal Service’s P.O. Box, the nearest mailbox to campus is located in the Talmadge neighborhood, a 40-minute walk from campus for students without access to a car. Further, the closest Post Office is in City Heights, an even longer trek for students who need to mail large packages. It is ridiculous that any student should have to walk or drive that far for mail services. 

San Diego State Mail Services old me that USPS collection boxes are strictly overseen by the Postal Service itself, making it all the more curious as to why the campus’ only mailbox was removed. 

For out of state students seeking to vote in their home states, they must send their sealed ballots via mail back to their home state before election day. As an out of state student, I can personally attest to the frustration of having to find a post office off campus in order to mail my ballot back to Washington state. 

Despite the digital age we find ourselves immersed in, traditional mail services are still critical to the fabric of our society. 

This year’s presidential election proved just how important traditional mail services are. According to data from USA Today, 65 million Americans voted by mail in the 2020 general election. The precedent for mail-in votes can be directly attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of in-person voting centers in many counties. Despite the record amount of mail-in votes during this year’s election, mailboxes and drop off locations were harder to find than ever.  Leading up to the election, there was widespread concern over voter fraud and mailed ballots, though these fears never substantiated. In an effort to suppress voter turnout, officials in Texas allowed only one dropbox per county. 

In mid-June, President Trump appointed a new head of the Post Office, longtime Republican donor Louis DeJoy. Though DeJoy lacked any Postal Service experience, he immediately implemented changes that seemed to favor Donald Trump’s odds in the upcoming election. In an effort to cut costs for the institution, DeJoy reduced USPS retail hours, reduced the number of collection boxes and closed or consolidated mail processing facilities. These changes led to a substantial decrease in the percentage of mail delivered on time, according to numbers collected by the Guardian.

I was unable to ascertain why – or even when – the blue drop box on Campanile and Lindo Paseo was removed, though it may be linked to the changes made by Trump’s most recent Postmaster General. 

Following widespread backlash regarding the internal changes made by the Post Office, which prompted fears that the changes were implemented to influence the election, DeJoy announced these changes would not take place until after the November election. In the meantime, the USPS remains in limbo. President-Elect Biden will surely appoint a new head of the Postal Service, which will likely result in internal policy changes. 

Students need access to send mail, whether it be mailing a ballot or sending a friend a handwritten letter. Sophomore student Nate Montilino commented on the situation, “Last week I went to mail my broken phone back to Minnesota and was forced to uber to the nearest mailbox. Definitely frustrating.” 

It is unknown if the SDSU campus will place another mailbox on campus anytime soon, though there are likely more changes to come within the Postal Service given the upcoming presidential transition and the ongoing pandemic. It would definitely be good to see a mailbox on campus again. 

Willem Quigley is a sophomore studying journalism. Follow him on Twitter @willquigz11.