Last Thursday, Jan. 7, the student body and faculty received an email stating that hoverboard use on campus was banned until further notice.
The message opened with a statement enforcing the immediate college ban of the use of “self-balancing scooters,” as well as battery-operated scooters and hands-free segways.
The email stated the reason for this ban is due to numerous safety concerns, most prominently noted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, along with other agencies.
Union students who own either self-balancing scooters, battery-operated scooters or hands-free segways have been instructed not to bring these devices to campus. If students have already brought the devices to campus, they have been instructed to disconnect them from power sources and not use them.
Many students are unhappy with this new ban. Union student Jake Zipkin ’18 said, “I think it’s pretty ridiculous that the school decided to ban the use of hoverboards on campus. There are just as many safety concerns in riding a bike, longboard or skateboard on campus, but we obviously aren’t seeing any action against those means of transportation.”
Zipkin said he is baffled that Union has decided to make what he calls a “rash decision” in banning the scooters. He stated, “I’m assuming the stories on the news of ‘exploding hoverboards’ scared administration enough to put this new rule into place.” Zipkin has owned his scooter since the summer, and he says it has displayed no signs of faulty hardware.
Zipkin has reached out to both Director of Budgets and Risk Management John Skumurski and Director of Campus Safety Chris Hayen urging Union to reconsider the ban.
He plans on lobbying in favor of the elimination of this ban as well as continuing to spread awareness throughout campus in an attempt to gain popular support.
On Dec. 10, 2015, Union also enacted a temporary ban on the use of all drones or unmanned aircraft on or above college property.
The temporary ban on the use of drones at Union was the result of liability risks in regards to new federal regulations. Students were dismayed to hear about the ban on drones, as well.
Adam Johnson ’16 said, “It is upsetting that the school has banned drones, because they provide a great opportunity for students to take great photos of campus.”
On Dec. 16, 2015, Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Elliot F. Kaye released a statement on the risks of hoverboard use.
The risk of fire is the main safety concern with the devices. Kaye said: “every consumer who is riding a hoverboard, who purchased one to give as a gift during the holidays, or who is thinking about buying one deserves to know if there is a safety defect.” According to the statement, CPSC investigators are “actively investigating hoverboard-related fires across the U.S.”
The organization has purchased boards and obtained specific boards that have caught on fire. The CPSC is testing and will continue to test both the new and used boards in order to obtain answers.
Kaye also notes that while the fire hazard is of great concern, so is the fall hazard. He states that the CPSC has received multiple reports of injuries including concussions, fractures, contusions or abrasions and internal organ injuries.
According to USA Today, more than 30 colleges have banned hoverboards amid recent safety concerns. These colleges include Boston College, American University and University of Connecticut.