The Mail Center was renovated over the summer to create a system that would allow students to pickup packages anytime the Aloha Center is open even outside of the normal office hours, while having to go to go to the counter in order to get letters. According to Olivia Christy, supervisor and employee for 14 years from Laie, it is now the only campus mail center of its kind in the state of Hawaii.
Christy, said important changes were made because there will be a lot more mail coming in. “We are working on trying to service more students as the Hales grow, and the [size of] my space will not grow. So I had to find means and ways of servicing more people with the same space. The mailboxes we had were not going to work.”
Christy said students will not be assigned a box number with a key but instead a pin they will be given through email. Mail will be presented at the counter and given by one of the staff members. She said it is important students come to the counter right away to pick up their mail because letters will only be held for two weeks before being sent back to the sender. Students will have to show both their student ID and four-digit verification number to pick up the letters.
In regards to being notified about receiving packages, Christy said there will be a possibility of receiving two different emails. Each email is different. One email, titled, “BYUH Package Lockers,” will include a six-digit pin indicating if a student has a package at the lockers. The student can then enter the pin into the touch screen keypad at the lockers, and a box will open from a random locker holding their package.
The second email will be sent only if the package lockers are full, said Christy. It will instruct students to pick up packages from the front counter, which was done before the new system. She said it’s the only email that will not send out a verification number.
Expressing his excitement for the remodeled Mail Center, Stefan Huysmans, a senior from New Zealand majoring in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis in graphic design and business, said, “With this system I don’t have to wait, and that’s cool.”
However, Huysmans said the Mail Center is still working on some glitches in the system. “Kat accidently opened all the mail boxes, and so we were playing a version of ‘Whack-a-Mole’ trying to close all the doors while all of them opened. That was funny… I had access to everyone’s packages, it just opened for me.”
Kat Fui, the current mail clerk and BYUH alumna from Hauula, said, “Everything is going well and we’ve had a lot of good feedback, but we are still trying to get everything situated.
“I am hoping it will be good and will save time for everybody, us and the users. Hopefully it will be beneficial on both ends. Some of the biggest comments people would make [previously] were that it was hard for people to come get their packages.”
Christy said she had originally suggested the changes at a conference called National Association of College & University Mail Services, or NACUMS. She said vendors brought out different options for delivering and carrying mail, and she said she decided to go with the package locker system and delivering mail over the counter. It would make mail more organized, she said, and easier than the traditional way of having a mailbox.
Vanderbilt University and Eastern Tennessee State both use this mail system, according to Christy. Vanderbilt has 500 package lockers. BYUH has 72 lockers. Christy said this was the most cost-effective option for the Mail Center.
She said the new mail system “is something universities and colleges are doing across the nation. It is unusual for us because we are the first ones in Hawaii. I could see the potential in it.”
Christy said she had been trying to get the new system approved for more than three years, and the new influx of students and new dorms finally made it possible. “[Hales 4 and 6] were finished and they were going to open all 10 of them. I [couldn’t] service that many people.”
Fui said if students insist on a key to check their mail then it will be more expensive; however, those who already have a box will be grandfathered into the new system. There are only 40 of the original boxes.
Fui also said there are options available for other students and faculty. “Any current person associated with the university can have access to the mail lockers. Off-campus students have to pay $15 a semester.”
Nicole Alexandra Zito, a senior art major from Kaaawa, said she started working for the Mail Center about a month ago. She said, “The locker system is a lot better than before. Before, people asked for packages during our busiest hours.”
Zito said she believes the new Mail Center process is a good advancement and better for our day and age. She said in order for the new process to take full effect, the students need to bring in their ID every time they pick up mail, check their email every day and check the pin numbers in their email.
Karissa Skinner-Karatassos, a senior studying elementary education from Pennsylvania, said she has worked for the Mail Center for more than a year. “I like this system better,” she said.
She said some students have commented on the new system’s ease of use – it’s faster in terms of getting mail to students and less crowded. She mentioned how students appreciate emails so they are able to keep track of incoming mail.
Sister Garff, a senior missionary from Utah working with the Career Center, said, “I think I will prefer this system better once they have all the kinks figured out. It’s a new system, so it is going to take some time.”
She said she is still learning how the process works but thinks it will be a great thing due to the flexible hours.
Christy said she thinks by mid-semester everyone will understand how the process works and will be able to get the hang of accessing their packages and letters.