Mixups Twice Delay UC Box Sale

Students engage in a ‘mad rush’ for boxes once shipment arrives Monday

Almost 150 students packed the hallways of Holworthy basement on Monday, all in search of the boxes supplied by the Undergraduate Council (UC) at the close of each year, only to find that the boxes—already once-delayed in their arrival—were not ready for them.

While the UC had promised a 10 a.m. opening of sales on Monday, by the time the boxes arrived in the late afternoon, crowds had swelled and tempers had flared. In the rush that ensued, the boxes were sold out within an hour.

“Once they came, it was kind of a mad rush,” Leah M. Litman ’06 said of the late-arriving containers.

Litman, a writer for campus blog Team Zebra, took up an offer over the UC-General e-mail list inviting bloggers to live-blog as they sold boxes.

She said the crowd she witnessed during her 3:20 to 5:00 shift “ranged from not really caring,” to others that were “frustrated, swearing and cussing at the UC.” She called the scene “all-in-all, crazy”.

The situation was not improved as a shopper exited through Holworthy’s “clearly marked” emergency exit, setting off an alarm that Litman said went off “from about 4:15 on.”

She said that “the most negative reaction” came when it was announced that the largest size of boxes had sold out within “eight to sixteen minutes.” Within an hour, all the new boxes had sold out completely.

Pointing out that this will be the last function that the Campus Life Committee (CLC) will ever coordinate, Litman said that “people that had any doubts about whether 2x2 was the way to go should take this as a sign,” referring to the recent initiative passed to cut the size of the UC to two reps per House and two committees.

The boxes were originally slated to go on sale last Friday morning—a schedule that fell to the wayside when the first of the mishaps took place.

CLC Services Vice-Chair Raul A. Campillo ’09, the orchestrator of the box sale, said the difficulties began with a miscommunication with UC box supplier VeriPack.

According to Campillo, the VeriPack operator told him that the next-day order was “all set” at the conclusion of a Wednesday afternoon phone call, and that if any problems arose, they would call later that afternoon.

Campillo didn’t receive a phone call until Thursday afternoon, when VeriPack told him that they needed additional information to process the order.

A second delay was experienced when the boxes—already late—did not get onto a UPS truck for the Friday rounds, meaning that the over-1,000-pound order would not make it to Harvard Yard until Monday.

Campillo said that at 11:30 on Monday morning a UPS driver called to tell him that he had arrived—at 8 Holworthy Place, in Boston.

The driver eventually arrived on campus, but as he was unfamiliar with the route and unable to find a loading dock at the Science Center, he returned to the UPS distribution center, Campillo said.

Campillo placed 13 calls between 1:45 p.m. and the boxes’ 3:45 p.m. arrival, including an initial call where “two different people [told him] the boxes were sitting there, and didn’t know why they weren’t dropped off yet.”

Aisha J. Dennis ’08 was one student that left the UC’s Holworthy Hall office empty handed and discontented.

In an e-mail, Dennis called the UC’s handling of the box issue “inefficient,” and said that she was left upset, as she had held off on purchasing boxes from other vendors for a week in favor of the UC’s sale.

“I think they could have done a better job with accommodating those who woke up bright and early to get boxes that were advertised to be there but weren’t,” wrote Dennis.

“I appreciate the UC for the service they provide to our undergraduate community but there’s no way I’ll hold my breath waiting on UC boxes ever again.”

—Staff writer Nicholas A. Ciani can be reached at nciani@fas.harvard.edu.