Choate Bids Farewell to Mailbox Locks

Photo by Michael Li/ The Choate News

In order to open a mailbox, students now simply turn the dial and press downwards.

Rather than enduring the often tedious process of opening one’s mailbox with a combination lock, students can now access their mail in seconds. The mailroom has removed all  locks’ from students’ mailboxes. Although the idea of unlocking mailboxes was controversial, mailroom staff and students are largely pleased with the outcome: easy accessibility.

Unlocking the mailbox is not only more convenient for students, but for mailroom staff, who encountered difficulties with locking mechanisms. Mr. Pete Dupont, head of Choate’s mailroom, said, “When I got here a couple years ago, we had about 12 extra parts for locks, but we ran out, and so many pieces were broken. We decided to open them all.”

Student now only have to turn the dial and press downwards to open their mailboxes. This approach has so far proven itself productive and easy for users. Additionally, students in the past encountered problems with accessing their mail after the mailroom staff had left for the day. “The reason why we decided to undo them is because kids weren’t able to get their mail after hours because of the condition of the boxes,” explained Mr. Dupont.

Students may ask for one of the thirty unused locked mailboxes. However, very few students have chosen to take advantage of this option. “Only two students so far have come to lock their mailboxes, but it is an option,” said Mr. Dupont.

Most students are appreciative of the change. Aurelie Temsamani ’20 said, “I like how convenient it is. You don’t have to worry about remembering your code, and not many people get mail in the first place.”

Grace Lawrie ’19 said, “It is better because last year, I know a lot of people forgot their combinations, and so they were constantly asking to having them unlocked.”

Many other students have praised the mailroom’s newfound accessibility. Isabelle Peel ’19 said, “I think it’s great because I always forget my password, and I never knew how to unlock my mailbox. It might not be a good idea, though, because someone could come in and take my mail, but for me, a forgetful person, it’s a good change for the school.”

Jack Kim ’17 added, “I like that they are unlocked. I forget my password all of the time.”

Security was a fear for the mailroom staff when making the decision to unlock the mailboxes and students. Despite the low number of students who have requested locked mailboxes, many students have expressed concern about the security of their mail. “One of my concerns about the mailboxes being open all of the time is that people could just take each other’s mail,” explained Serena Levin ’20. “I think they should be locked all of the time, and everyone should have their own code for their mailbox.”

“People might steal my stuff. If someone sent me a personal letter, and another student thought my mailbox was his or hers, that would be a very awkward situation. The main issue here is security and how we can just ensure that students have the integrity to open their own things,” agreed Ethan Luk ’20. However, no theft has been reported so far. The mailroom staff now relies on the integrity of the community to keep the students’ mail secure and private.

Additionally, the change is not permanent. Mr. Dupont commented, “We are moving up to the mailroom beneath the Dining Hall.” This move is a result of the St. John Hall construction and its predicted opening in 2017. In the new location, the mailboxes will be locked for students on campus. “Next year, we are going to have brand new mailboxes for everybody,” said Mr. Dupont.

“The vast majority of students like it,” remarked Mr. Dupont, explaining the overall reaction from the student body and the Choate community. Despite concerns, the idea has received positive feedback and seems to be working for the short time it will be employed.

Grace Zhang ’20 concluded, “In the end, there will be students that both agree and disagree with this new policy, and there is no way to appease every single student. However, keeping these mailboxes unlocked is a simple and progressive innovation that will convenience the lives of students in general.”

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