Here's a Switch: University Gives Out Baggies

Time was, you hid your baggies from university officials. Or at least the RA's. But over at UC Irvine, campus officials have reportedly distributed 1,000 Ziploc bags to 225 mail stations used by students, faculty and staff. No, the top brass isn't warming up to those who are holding.

Not on purpose, anyway.

The bags are to be used by those who receive suspicious mail in light of five UCI employees receiving envelopes containing an unidentified white powder and the words "Black Death" since Monday.

All the powder has been tested and determined to be harmless. The letters came from somewhere in Idaho, but authorities still do not know who mailed them or why they were sent to five campus employees—four women and one male. 

According to a blog post by Orange County Register "Science Dude" Gary Robbins, UCI
received about 1,800 pieces of mail Wednesday, two of which arrived without return addresses although neither was threatening. Since the anthrax mailing of late 2001, the university has opened such mail with a reverse filter device designed to capture powder and other unknown materials.

It's a big job; as Robbin notes, UCI gets about 600,000 pieces of mail a year, "ranging from routine letters to packages containing crickets, fruit flies and other small insects and animals used in research."

Could be worse: before email, the university was pulling in about 10 million pieces of mail a year.


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