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Campus Life’s entertainment-sharing initiative logs thousands of device rentals by students
two students playing a video game

Royce Bowden (left), a sophomore computer science major, and Ben Kavanaugh, a junior chemistry major, compete in “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” on the Nintendo Switch system, using controllers borrowed from RecRe Boxes in the Emory Student Center’s South Tower gaming center.

Sleek, black storage cabinets have popped up in the corners of some of the most popular hangout spots on Emory’s Atlanta campus over the past two years. But for hundreds of Emory students, these high-tech structures are more than storage units — they’re treasure boxes.

The cabinets or lockers are RecRe Boxes, the public face of a free rental platform brought to campus through a partnership between Emory Campus Life and RecRe Inc. This rental locker software platform empowers students to access free rentals of various entertainment items, from billiards to state-of-the-art, new video games. RecRe provides the lockers and Emory provides games and other items based on student usage and other student feedback.

Enhancing student services, supporting a greener environment

With four locations in the North and South Towers of the Emory Student Center (ESC) and two in the Student Identity Spaces on the third floor of Cox Hall, RecRe Boxes make the rental process simple. And, rentals are available 24 hours per day — which is crucial for students. Anyone with an email can simply scan the QR code of a specific RecRe Box item to borrow that item. Users are not charged unless borrowed items are returned late or damaged.

The Wi-Fi-enabled RecRe platform also enhances efficiency for program administrators by making it easy to track rentals and returns from anywhere on campus. It also simplifies the process of adding new rental items.

In addition to offering more recreation options for students, the platform supports Emory’s commitment to sustainability. More than 20 other higher education institutions now use RecRe Boxes to rent a range of useful items, from scientific calculators and charging cables to safety goggles and vacuums. A growing number of students throughout the country are using the free rental program to borrow university-purchased items. The goal is to reduce individual student purchases, shrink the carbon footprint associated with manufacturing and shipping new products, and produce less landfill trash.

When Emory students recently reached 10,000 RecRe rentals, the company recognized the achievement by planting 100 trees as part of its initiative to acknowledge RecRe’s partners and contribute to protecting endangered forests around the world.

“We partner with One Tree Planted, a reforestation nonprofit that has planted more than 92 million trees in 80 countries since 2014,” says Griffin Harrington, RecRe CEO.  

Senior Kabir Bergin, a finance major, appreciates the focus on sustainability. “It’s important to me that the rental boxes contribute to a more sustainable environment,” he says. “And it’s good to see a young company like RecRe making a contribution alongside cities, universities and major corporations.”

As for the boxes themselves, Bergin especially enjoys the 24/7 access. After the student staffer works a shift from 7 p.m.-12 a.m. at the student center, he says, “I like to wind down by playing Foosball, billiards and video games.”

Why RecRe?

The partnership began with a cold call in 2022 from RecRe to the ESC team. The conversation led to the installation of two boxes in the ESC in April 2022, making Emory the first higher education institution anywhere to establish a RecRe free-rental platform for students.

According to Nicholas Sapp, evening activities coordinator for student center operations, students have some clear favorites among the rental items. The five most popular are: Nintendo Switch controllers, tallying 2,677 rentals; billiards with 1,518; PS5 controllers with 1,429; Xbox controllers with 1,213; and JBL compact speakers with 27 rentals. Other available items include more than a dozen tabletop games like Monopoly, Scrabble, Dominoes, Catan, Apples to Apples, checkers and chess.

“Discovering RecRe Boxes in my first year at Emory was a pleasant surprise,” says Daniel Adesina, a sophomore majoring in neuroscience and chemistry. “Most schools don’t offer this kind of service for students, especially not free.”

Adesina favors the PS5 controller, which he rents six to eight times per month. “The RecRe Boxes are a great resource that’s easy to use, and they offer relaxing entertainment,” he says. “And sometimes that’s just what you need after a tough exam or long research paper.”

Sapp appreciates the relationship with the vendor as well as the product itself. “The RecRe team is great to work with, and we’re very pleased with the convenience that the boxes give our students,” Sapp says, explaining that the platform also features a mechanism for student feedback, which overall has been very positive.

“We’re thrilled to see how Emory’s expanded RecRe presence contributes to student engagement in the university’s vibrant culture,” says Griffin Harrington, RecRe CEO. “Equally important, feedback from our ongoing partnership with the Campus Life team supports RecRe’s commitment to continually enhancing our product for all users.”

Jackie Grinvalds is director of student center operations and events, with responsibilities that include the ESC, Cox Hall and the Alumni Memorial University Center (AMUC). “The RecRe Boxes provide an easily accessible way for students to take a fun break from work and study — and engage with one another,” she says.

“Emory is committed in countless ways to fostering student flourishing,” Grinvalds adds. “This is one of many ways the university’s commitment is supported by Campus Life student centers, which serve as the living rooms of our campus community.”

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