September 4, 2007

NEWS: Environmentalist vs. JCCC

Here's another interesting item concerning JCCC in Angela Curry's At Your Service column published in The Kanss City Star Sept. 1.

College, patron at odds over mass mailing

I’m an environmentalist and am most concerned about the destruction of trees and the massive use of energy to produce and deliver unwanted direct-mail pieces.

I am constantly calling the offenders to stop sending catalogs that I don’t want. I’ve discovered an offender in my own city that refuses to address their non-green approach to marketing, namely Johnson County Community College.

I receive a catalog the size of a small phone book three times a year. I have never attended JCCC nor plan to do so. I called and asked to be removed from the mailing lists. A college spokesman said she could not honor my request. I was floored. She said that the college uses the cheapest possible way of mailing — that is giving a stack of catalogs that are marked “residential customers” to the post office for them to deliver to each mailbox.

She suggested I contact the post office.

I learn that the college mails 211,000 of these catalogs three times each year. I can only imagine the waste of trees, electricity to run presses, toxic inks to dye the cover, and gasoline to ship the catalogs to their distribution points. JCCC said this is a community service. I do not perceive this misuse of energy as a service. — A.B., Prairie Village

Dear A.B.: Julie Haas, a spokeswoman for the college, confirmed that JCCC’s continuing-education class schedule is mailed to every household in Johnson County three times a year — October for the spring semester, March for the summer sessions and July for the fall semester.

“Because it’s the college’s mission to offer all kinds of educational opportunities to county residents, we feel it’s important to communicate what we have to offer to all county residents,” Haas said. Most U.S. community colleges follow the practice, she said.

Haas said that the fall continuing-education class schedule is printed on inexpensive newsprint, and at 124 pages, it is hardly the size of a small phone book. Haas said that no taxpayer funds are used for this, because continuing education classes are self-supporting. The program pays for the schedule from the revenue it earns from classes, Haas said.

Haas also said the college is able to economically distribute the booklet through saturation mailing, for which it pays the lowest postage rates.

Shawnee Mission Postmaster Russell R. Jacobson confirmed that the college takes advantage of the rate for saturation mailings, and as such each letter carrier is required to distribute the mailings to each residence on the route.

Jacobson also said that the Postal Service is required by federal law to deliver all mail that has been paid for.

Even though you mentioned that you had contacted the Direct Marketing Association to have your name removed from mailing lists, the organization said consumers may continue to receive mail from non-DMA member companies and also local merchants, professionals and alumni associations, political candidates and office holders, and mail addressed to “resident/occupant.”

Jacobson said that even though the Postal Service must deliver such mailings, you can mark “Refused” on the mailing and return it unopened to your letter carrier.