Whitman Wire

Exploring Whitman’s lost & found

Jeremy Alexander

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The lost and found at Whitman College exists in relative obscurity. Where does your water bottle go when it vanishes? What happens to items in the lost and found that no person ever claims?

Every building at Whitman College that has an office has its own lost and found. These offices hang onto the things they accumulate for a little while and then send them over to the director’s office in the Reid Campus Center.

Administrative Assistant for the Reid Campus Center Paul Dennis also serves as a caretaker for the lost and found.

“It varies from building to building,” said Dennis of the campus’s lost and found repositories. “But the library is the most diligent and sends items out once a week.”

Items that arrive at the campus center director’s office go into a box. Once that box fills up, a custodian logs it into the main storage area down the hall. In the resource room this room is filled with organized cabinets of hundreds of lost items, which students claim as theirs.

If no person comes to claim these items, they are kept from April 1 to the following day in April the next year. When the first of May to comes, the items are rounded up and sold.

“Items that have been in there up to a year are sold off in a big yard sale in the Reid Campus Center lobby,” said Dennis. “The money raised at the yard sale is then used to sponsor The Adopt A Family program at Christmas time.”

He has overseen this process for the past 15 years. For Whitman’s small size, there are some interesting, expensive and peculiar things that have ended up in the resource room.

“We’ve got a pair of crutches down there,” said Dennis. “I often wonder how it is you walk into some building someplace on crutches and then left without them and did not realize you weren’t walking with them anymore.”

He has seen everything from guitars, skateboards and graphing calculators to leather jackets. Year after year, the most consistent item the lost and found receives is a couple hundred water bottles. Many Whitman students have reusable water bottles, and they are misplaced frequently.

Gabe Kiefel is a former student and currently a security officer at Whitman. He talked about his role as a security member when he finds lost items.

“Once in a while we use the lost and found listserv, but most things end up being turned into the main lost and found at the Reid Campus Center,” said Kiefel. “The lost and found is not run through security, [but] we often get phone calls since we are here 24/7.”

Kiefel also had a bizarre lost and found experience during a summer high school debate camp that took place at Whitman.

“There was a wallet that was run over by a lawn mower,” said Kiefel. “I was called by a maintenance guy, and we were out there looking for little shreds of information. There was 160 dollars in there, and it was all destroyed. We were able to piece together an ID and located the owner.”

Dianne Clark is the administrative assistant For Division 1 in Maxey Hall, where there is a blue bin for lost items. Anyone can place items in the bin. Items are sent to Reid at least once a semester. She was not sure what the most frequent lost item is. As for the strangest item, Diane had a specific answer.

“The strangest item we have come across was a Fitbit wristband,” she said. “No one has claimed it yet.”

Every year thousands of items get misplaced at Whitman, and most end up in one place. If a person loses a water bottle, they had better have a lot of free time when they go to the resource room. There are hundreds.

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Exploring Whitman’s lost & found