Neither wind nor rain, nor unlocked mailbox, keeps these couriers from delivering the mail. Perhaps this should be the new motto of the Bowdoin Mail Center, as it was recently discovered that student mailboxes are not as secure as many may think.
The Orient tested 100 mailboxes at random and was able to open 12 without entering combinations. This security breach suggests that student mail could be at risk for theft.
Assistant Director of Campus Services Chris Taylor, who oversees the mail center, insisted that the unlocked boxes were merely due to student oversight and not mechanical problems.
"Mailboxes are intended to be closed and then spun," said Taylor. "Like a lot of other things, they do have an ability to be compromised. [There is] nothing inherently wrong with the mailboxes."
Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols agreed.
"To me, it's analogous to a propped door," said Nichols. "It's all about securing propped doors, room or mailbox. If they are not closed properly you open yourself up to theft."
While some students may have discovered mailboxes that have been improperly locked, there have been no reports of mail theft at Bowdoin.
"In my time we have not had a theft of contents," said Nichols. "Someone has accidentally taken their [mail]box mate's mail and that person thought it was missing."
Taylor discussed the fact that a failure to properly lock one's mailbox puts both mailbox users at risk and acknowledged that there are some students who knowingly keep their mailboxes unlocked.
"We don't try to figure out which of the two students it is," said Taylor. "We remind them they need to spin them at the end."
"Students do a great job of respecting each other's mail," he added.
While unlocked mailboxes have not been a prominent problem in the past, the Mail Center does make an effort to reprimand students who consistently leave their boxes ajar or unlocked.
"We try to be vigilant," said Taylor.
Taylor added that students who pick up their mail infrequently make it more difficult to monitor the boxes.
"Mail to my generation was a lot more important," he said.
Since there is nothing mechanically wrong with the mailboxes, which are distributed to the College directly from the United States Postal Service, there are no plans to "fix" the problem. Nichols instead saw this as an opportunity to educate students about the prominent location of the mail center and the severity and dangers of mail tampering.
"The location of the mail center is a crossroads of the campus and it might be enticing," said Nichols. "It's a good time to remind students that tampering with mailboxes is a federal offense."