Finding Lost Property
Have you ever lost your property somewhere on the YU campus? What did you do after you lost your property? If you have lost something here, have you ever found it? Many YU students have lost something, but most are not able to find them. One of the reasons is that YU does not have a good system for finding lost items. What can YU do to improve this situation?
We often see papers that are posted around campus with captions like, "Looking for something, I lost it somewhere." We can see these notices in front of class room doors and in the toilets. USBs, electronic dictionaries, books, and many other items small and large are lost all the time. Even though these incidents occur all the time, if you want to find your lost property you are in for a hard time. YU students, have four basic methods available to find lost property.
First, there is the YU homepage lost and found board. Second, students often post notices on the walls where everyone can easily see them. Third, they notify the administration department of each college and students' association room of each college. At YU there are 17 administration departments and students' association rooms. Usually students or custodial staff turn in items they find to one of these places. Finally, most students go to the Central Library especially to the Digital Resources Room. This is where they keep turned in items like student's identification cards, earphones, USBs and other small items. According to a YNO survey, 72% of YU students have lost something, and 32% of those students actually were able to find what they lost. That leaves a large number of students who have lost things and never recovered them.
Many students use the YU homepage, but only 63.4% of the students we surveyed knew about the lost and found page. There are many messages on Internet bulletin boards with titles like "I lost something." On the other hand, there are few titles that begin with something like "I have found something." The most serious problem is the average number of times a message gets read is about twenty. Even though many of these internet boards exist, students rarely find their lost property. According to a YNO survey, 38% of students found their property after leaving a message on a bulletin board.
Hye-Jin Jo (Sophomore, French Language & Literature) is a student who was not able to find her lost property even though she left messages on the board.
Q. What did you lose, and where did you lose it?
A. I lost my student identification card and an umbrella in a class room.
Q. You used the bulletin board to try and find your things with no success; do you think the board works? If not, why don't you think so?
A. I think that it doesn't work, because only the students who have lost property use the board. In my case, the first time I posted my message, I had some faith that I could find my things. It just didn't work. After that experience, if I lose anything else I won't use the board.
Q. Is there another method you think would be more effective?
A. There should be a campus wide system. For example if I lose something at the college of Liberal Arts, I have to go from building to building myself to try and find it. There should be a central location where all lost and found items are taken.
Q. What do you want most?
A. I want a new system. However, like everything else it will work only if students voluntarily participate.
According to a YNO survey, 6.8% of the students who read the messages on the lost and found board actually try to find the students who posted the messages. Participation of the students is necessary, but there is another problem with the Homepage's bulletin board. The board is self-regulating. There are messages posted that are not related to the board's purpose. The department that is supposed to manage the board does not actively seek out and delete the messages that have nothing to do with lost and found items. Originally, the lost and found board was managed by the One-Stop Service Center. In order to promote wider use by the students the board became self-regulated.
16.2% of the students who lose property simply post notices on walls around campus. 38% of the students who employed this method were able to recover their lost items. This method can attract public attention, but there are usually so many notices up at the same time that it is difficult for any single notice to stand out. There is also a limit to how many places that are available to post your notice. Many students will never see lost notices before the custodial staff takes them down.
There are similar problems with going to the administration department of each college and the students' association rooms to locate lost property. There is lack of awareness on the part of most of YU's students. According to a YNO survey, 29% of students surveyed knew that the administration department of each college manages lost and found property, and only 15.1% of the students who lost property actually used the administration departments as a means to try to find their lost property. YNO interviewed the administration department of the college of Liberal Arts.
Q. If lost items get turned in, what is your procedure for dealing with them?
A. When things are turned in, we try to ascertain who the owner is. If we are able to do that we tell them to come to pick it up. If we aren't able to ascertain the owner, we display the item in a box of lost and found things.
Q. You just display them?
A. We only display them when we can't ascertain the owner.
Q. How long do you display them?
A. Until the item gets claimed.
Q. What percent of the property that gets turned in gets claimed?
A. Except for cases when we can't ascertain the owner, all items get returned to their owners.
The administration departments of other colleges have different policies in place when dealing with lost and found property. The Department of Civil Engineering keeps turned in property for one year, and then they scrap it. The College of Education also keeps turned in items for at least one year. The School of Textiles pins up a notice on the bulletin board with the photo of the turned in property. The College of Political Science & Public Administration, Natural Resources, Engineering and Music pin up a notice on their bulletin boards. The School of Biotechnology uses a club on Cyworld that operates a Lost and Found board. We asked them all about how many things got turned in, and they all answered not many items get turned in every year, and almost all of it gets claimed. Only the College of Liberal Arts had a display box for the turned in items.
At the Central Library, especially the Digital Resources Room, staff members post memos about where and when things were found. Often students turn things in when they check out a book. This provides a time reference for when the item gets turned in, and there is a record of who turned it in. On the surface, it seems like this system should work very well, but there are no public announcements or notifications about items that get turned in. We went to the Digital Resources Room and we couldn't find any notices about lost property. The number of students who get back their property is small.
Again, the most important thing is student participation. Most of the students just walk past things that get left behind. Except for the students who have lost their property, other students simply are not concerned about what is on these boards. Only 6.8% of the students we surveyed replied that they actually read the messages in order to help find other student's lost property. If students actually tried to help other students who have lost property, most items could be returned to their owners easily.
Most students have had an experience with losing something. According to a YNO survey, 79% of the students who responded feel it is necessary to have a system to help find and return lost property. The 21% who responded that we do not need a system believe that if students do not participate in the system, it would be useless.
There is another way to improve YU's system for finding lost property. Other Universities approach the problem in different ways. Ehwa Women's University manages their lost and found board on a system that is similar to YU's Education & Administration system. This system is called EASY. If we want to enter the system, we have to login to the page. Many students login to the EASY system everyday because there are many class related services and notices posted on this system. If the lost and found system were integrated with this program, like it is at Ehwa, many more students would see the board.
In the case of Kyung Hee University, the One-Stop Service Center handles complaints and lost articles. On their board they have many messages with photos, as well as where, when, and who found the item. There are photos with messages that make it easy for people to recognize their things. Kyung Hee University has one office which manages the homepage and updates it every week. Another method is to use the administration of each college. Every student is a member of a specific college and most of their classes are held in their department buildings. If you lose your property in the class room it makes the most sense to start your search in your department. However this system requires a great deal of student participation.
79% of the students surveyed answered it was necessary to have a system to help find lost property. Among them 72.6% answered it was necessary to have a centralized lost and found center. Other universities use their One-Stop Service Center to handle this function, and they also have staff assigned to manage lost and found property. YU also has a One-Stop Service Center; it was the first student help center of its kind established by a university. If our One-Stop Service Center manages the lost and found, there could be some difficulty processing found items. There would have to be procedures drawn up for bringing found items turned in elsewhere, but the first thing that should be done is to assign personnel to manage the department.
If you lose something important you will probably feel very depressed. There are some ways you can find what you have lost, but they are often not easy to access and sometimes difficult to locate. However, when we have an organized system for lost property, we will be able to find our lost things more easily and conveniently. However, the one thing we cannot get around is that even if we have the finest system available, none of that will do any good unless students care enough to participate.