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For Harvard students who live in the College’s upperclassmen houses, the beginning of the year is a chaotic time that includes moving in, unpacking, and adjusting to a new living space.
This year, however, students making online orders to put the final touches on their preparations for the school year arrived on campus to a new package delivery system.
During the academic year, students typically receive an email informing them that their package is available for pickup in their house’s mail yard. But due to the high volume of packages that arrive to students in the weeks immediately following move-in, the College has previously used larger, more organized locations for pick-up at the beginning of each year.
Beginning Aug. 16, Harvard temporarily hired Olympia Moving and Storage to handle the processing and delivery of packages directly to the dorms of students living in the nine houses located along the Charles River. The change has drawn mixed reviews from students, who lauded the ease of having packages delivered to their dorms but bemoaned the system’s shortcomings.
The delivery system will continue until Sep. 26, after which parcel pickup by students in house mailing rooms will resume.
Those who have welcomed the change cited the convenience of having parcels sent directly into their dorm rooms without needing to be present at the time of delivery.
Lauren H. Kim ’25, a Crimson Editorial editor, said she has had a “really great experience” with the package delivery system, though she noted a slight delay in delivery to her house compared to packages’ shipping arrival.
“So far, all of my packages that have been delivered have arrived at my room safely — which I do appreciate because some of them kind of large and it would be hard to carry them up the stairs all by myself,” said Lilia Gonzales ’23-’24, who has ordered “at least 10” packages so far this year.
Sera P. McDonald ’24, who works as a building manager assistant in Winthrop House, said hiring Olympia has made building staff’s work more manageable during the rush of deliveries since move-in.
Before the implementation of the new system, McDonald was responsible for labeling and organizing all packages delivered to the house. Now, Olympia handles these responsibilities.
“It’s honestly more convenient for me, but the people working at Olympia are working very hard to get packages processed,” she said.
For others, the convenience of the new system has been dampened by delays in delivery and feelings of invasions of privacy as Olympia employees enter their rooms to deliver the packages.
Ryan T. Rhee ’26 said he has “mixed feelings” about the new system.
“It’s good when it works efficiently,” he said. “The only problem is when it takes an entire day when you could have just gotten it the same day.”
Emily G. Salem ’24 also described her frustration with delivery delays.
“It’s kind of painful to hear that you have the package and then not have it delivered for another day or two, especially if it’s something you need,” she said.
When dorms process packages for students, the package’s recipients receive an email that residents of river houses will have their packages delivered within 24 hours of receiving the email.
Aside from delays in delivery time, some students said that the entry of Olympia moving staff into their rooms raised privacy concerns. Melanie M. Volz ’25, a junior living in Mather House, wasn’t “super comfortable” with Olympia’s current delivery practices.
“There wasn’t a door knock or they didn’t ring the doorbell,” Volz said.
Harvard spokesperson Jonathan Palumbo wrote in an emailed statement that Olympia Moving and Storage is a “long-term University vendor,” adding that the University has taken “additional steps including adding security staff presence during delivery hours and working with Building Managers to address any issues identified by students.”
“Students have been provided with a QR code to access support with checking on their packages and members of our team are closely monitoring all of the activity,” he added.
A spokesperson for Olympia Moving and Storage did not respond to a request for comment.
Brian Lin ’26 pointed out that the College could let students decide if they prefer having their packages delivered or picked up in their house’s mailroom.
“I feel like if anything should be improved, they should give preference to all the students,” Lin said.
In his statement, Palumbo cited “space constraints” in the River houses to explain why the College hired Olympia to deliver packages to students’ dorms.
“The space that was used for storage in previous years is not available this year so this plan was enacted,” he wrote.
—Staff writer Ella L. Jones can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on X @ejones8100.
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