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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

‘You Have Mail’: Quinnipiac overhauls campus mail system, installs smart package lockers

Jack Muscatello
Quinnipiac University unveiled more than 1,000 package lockers on the Mount Carmel and York Hill campuses after reconstructing its campus mail systems over the summer to reduce student wait times.

Quinnipiac University unveiled a reconfigured campus mail system on Aug. 28 after remodeling the mail pickup centers on both the Mount Carmel and York Hill campuses to reduce excessive student wait times.

As part of the comprehensive overhaul, Quinnipiac officials replaced the service window and aging student mailboxes in the Carl Hansen Student Center with 590 self-service package lockers and a redesigned mail distribution center.

And on York Hill, the mail center in the Rocky Top Student Center now boasts nearly 400 smart package lockers of its own.

Students receive a “you have mail” package alert via email or text message when the mail center on their residential campus has received and processed their package. The notification includes the locker number and the locker bank number corresponding to their package, as well as the locker size, a QR code and an access code.

The technologically savvy locker system — which features lockers ranging in size from extra-small to extra-large — then offers students four ways to access their packages.

The self-service kiosks located at each of the locker banks allow students to scan the package’s QR code, enter the access code or tap their QCard. Alternatively, students can use the QTrak mobile app to open their package locker without using the kiosk, though they must be within four feet of their assigned package locker for the door to open.

“They are very easy to use and super convenient,” said Emma Blackwell, a first-year human resource management major. “I like them a lot.”

Grace Carello, a sophomore nursing major, described the new pickup system as a user-friendly, time-saving upgrade.

“I find it pretty easy — it says in your text or email what locker to pick it up in and you just go tap your card and it opens,” Carello said. “It saves all the time waiting in the line like we did last year.”

Unlike the prior pickup system’s staffed service window, the self-service smart lockers remain open and accessible to students between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.

“As long as the building is open, students can get their mail and packages,” the Quinnipiac Mail Services staff wrote in an Aug. 3 email to students.

Kevin MacDougall, associate director of telephone, cabling infrastructure and administrative services, said the flexible pickup hours have already proven to be popular among students, noting that as many as 50% of students now opt to pick up their packages between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. each night.

“No one ever had the opportunity to pick up packages at dinner,” MacDougall said. “You don’t have to think about your whole day revolving around a five hour window if you really want your package.”

Processed packages have a four-day locker life and a subsequent 11-day holding period before the mail center returns them to their original sender.

The package alert system will issue a pickup notification each day a package remains in a locker. On day five, the mail center staff will mark the package as “stale” and require students to pick it up at the service windows located behind the locker banks in the Carl Hansen Student Center and adjacent to those in the Rocky Top Student Center.

The new 14-day pickup window is roughly half as short as the mail center’s previous 30-day pickup window. However, MacDougall said that the mail center held very few packages for the full pickup period and noted that staff would sometimes experience difficulties returning packages after 30 days.

MacDougall said Quinnipiac administrators began planning to modernize the university’s increasingly antiquated campus postal system in December 2022.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve the student experience,” MacDougall said. “And ever since COVID, the amount of packages has just drastically increased.”

As students return to campus and classes, MacDougall said the university’s mail center is receiving upwards of 2,000 packages per day right now. But he said that even once the rush of back-to-school orders slows in the coming weeks, daily package deliveries will continue to average in the 700s.

The sheer number of daily package deliveries would yield “completely unacceptable” pickup lines that MacDougall said quickly overwhelmed Quinnipiac’s previous mail center — the foundation of which, he noted, was a “giant, alphabetized pile” of boxes and oversized envelopes.

“The line could be 90 minutes long,” MacDougall said. “We actually had to install a camera and build a website so people could go check how long the line was.”

Noting that the campus mail centers typically only receive a few inches of letter-sized paper mail each day, MacDougall said the age of technology had rendered the student mailboxes that the package lockers replaced effectively obsolete.

However, students can still pick up paper mail — as well as any oversize or stale packages — at the Mount Carmel and York Hill mail center service windows between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays.

Publicly available building permits issued between June 6 and July 19 show that Quinnipiac spent approximately $310,000 remodeling the Carl Hansen Student Center and another $165,000 renovating the Rocky Top Student Center in preparation for the lockers. How much the university spent on the locker units themselves is unknown.

Although Quinnipiac officials initially planned to install the package lockers the week of fall move-in, MacDougall said a supply chain issue delayed the delivery of the locker units by a week. The unexpected setback in the installation forced the university to distribute all mail from the old postal center behind the College of Arts and Sciences until Aug. 28.

First-year entrepreneurship major Ava Capra praised the lockers’ convenient location, calling the walk to the Mail Service Center building — an already lengthy route further complicated by the South Quad construction detours — a “hike.”

“I get so many packages, and I think they are definitely worth it,” Capra said of the new self-service lockers. “I don’t ever want to have to walk again to that green house.”

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About the Contributors
Cat Murphy
Cat Murphy, News Editor
Alexandra Martinakova
Alexandra Martinakova, Editor-in-Chief
Jack Muscatello
Jack Muscatello, Digital Managing Editor

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    Raye SorenOct 14, 2023 at 8:34 am

    The paper mail service is terrible. My student doesn’t get my letters or cards for two weeks after I send them. Something is wrong with this mail service. It’s very disappointing