Student mailboxes in Frist Campus Center will be replaced with package lockers by next fall. These “smart lockers” combine modern software and hardware technologies so that students can pick up their packages anytime that Frist is open, according to Director of Print and Mail Services Ashley Gorfine.
Staff levels are not expected to change; instead, the manned station will be devoted to oversized packages and letters, Gorfine added.
Current plans involve installing 990 package lockers over the summer, according to Gorfine. Following this change, the University will become the first in the Ivy League to have package lockers. Although many institutions have been discussing similar plans, the University will be the first to actually implement it.
“The space issue was becoming so apparent that it was difficult to control the [number] of packages coming in,” Gorfine said.
Over 129,000 packages are currently handled by Print and Mail Services annually, compared to 109,000 in 2012. The period between 2008 and 2018 saw a 50 percent increase in packages.
This sharp rise can be attributed to subscription delivery services such as Amazon Prime, Gorfine suggested.
“We needed to do something, and we needed to do something fast,” added Gorfine. “We didn’t want to leave Frist.”
In response to the limited operating hours and the 700-square foot package room space, Mail Services proposed smart package lockers, inspired by companies like Amazon. The new lockers will allow for 75 additional hours a week of access to packages.
Students will be able to access the lockers via a self-service kiosk or directly from a smartphone app expected to launch in the fall.
“You’re not working on our clock; we’re working on yours,” said Gorfine in a presentation to the Undergraduate Student Government meeting on April 30. “This allows us to do our job more efficiently [and] more effectively for the students.”
The current plan involves installing extra-small, small, and medium lockers. The dimensions and specifications are yet to be determined, and Mail Services is currently testing sizes to determine exactly which size packages will fit.
In addition, each locker room will have at least two recycling bins where students can discard packaging materials, in hopes of promoting University sustainability initiatives. Gorfine believes that these changes will “bring us into the 21st century.”
Construction is expected to begin the day after Commencement, with the first shipment of lockers set to arrive mid-June.