Package Lockers
Newly installed package lockers in the Presidential Court Building on Tuesday, January 14, 2020.

The power of the post remains strong, but the form it takes on Rocky Top is quickly changing.

UT Printing and Mail implemented a new package delivery policy this semester. Mail services will still deliver letters to residence halls. However, students will now retrieve packages from electronic “package lockers” in Presidential Court, Stokely Hall and the Cumberland Avenue Vol Shop.

Tim Price, the university’s Director of Printing and Mail, said increased delivery truck traffic caused the change. He hopes the lockers will decrease this traffic.

“Deliveries of packages to students have grown over the last three years, rising from approximately 88,100 to 116,000, and that trend is continuing,” Price said. “All student packages coming to campus are delivered to Mail Services, which reduces the need for multiple delivery trucks to make multiple stops.”

The previous system had campus residents receive package mail from their residents hall’s front desk. The desk’s worker, a fellow dorm resident, would then ask for the student’s ID, confirm the student’s identity and retrieve the package in question.

Now, UT Mail will send a locker number and retrieval code through email and the UT Package Lockers App. Residents then need to walk to the locker’s location and either enter the code or unlock the storage unit with said app.

When asked, UT Printing and Mail did not clarify how the previous system was insecure or how the new system fixes this insecurity. However, Price believes the change will lead to a secure and walkable campus.

“We want to reduce delivery vehicle traffic to create a more pedestrian-friendly campus, create a way for students to pick up packages anytime at safe and secure locations and use technology so that students can know right away when packages are ready to be picked up,” Price said.

Since UT Mail has not yet released the app, students need to rely on email and codes for now. They expect to publish the app in the next few weeks, making it the third UT service app published this school year after DUO Push and the Mobile Vol Card.

Residents will use different locker locations based on their hall of residence.

White, Orange, Brown, Dogwood, Magnolia, Hess, Reese and Carrick Hall residents receive packages from Presidential Court lockers.

Vol, Laurel, Massey and Clement Hall residents receive theirs from lockers at Cumberland Avenue’s Vol Shop.

Stokely Hall’s lockers are within Stokely itself.

Students have had mixed responses to the change. Some students, like freshman biology major Zach Weeks, call the lockers impractical, inconvenient and unnecessary.

“I think it’s extremely unpractical and inconveniences those ordering packages,” Weeks said. “It used to be so simple – you could walk down to the front desk and get your business done. But now you have to go out of your way. It’s definitely a negative.”

Other students, like senior neuroscience major Annice Chew, accepted the change more readily, but still harbored concerns about inconvenience, security and UT’s newfound reliance on apps.

“I don’t think it’s a terrible idea, but I do think UT’s been requiring a lot of apps recently and it’s less convenient to go to a separate location,” Chew said. “It’s (also) kind of hackable. Someone could get your package without you knowing. Though on the flip side, I don’t know how many valuable packages come to campus each day.”

Though Price commented on student concerns, he did not address the questions they raised.

“As we have launched the initiative, we have received some concerns from students about delivery delays and technical difficulties,” Price said. “We greatly appreciate students’ patience and welcome their feedback. We are continuously looking to improve the new process.”

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