Daily Egyptian

Hoverboard ban inspires debate on campus

By Tierra Carpenter, @TierraMC_

SIU student Kristin Schellhardt was like many other kids, teens and young adults, intrigued by the hands-free segways, colloquially known as hoverboards, that seem to be flying off the shelves. She even considered getting one for herself.

Then she read a story that changed her opinion about the small transportation devices.

“I thought about it just to see if it would be fun and then I read the article when they started catching fire spontaneously. I was like, ‘Nope, that’s a bad idea,’” said Schellhardt, who is a junior studying chemistry from Granite City.

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The Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating at least 39 hoverboards that have caught fire in 19 states, according to its website.

Not only did these cases influence the mind of Schellhardt, but they also influenced an SIU policy that recently banned the on-campus use of hoverboards

“There have been numerous reports of hoverboards catching fire, particularly when they’re being recharged,” university spokesperson Rae Goldsmith said. “There have also been reports of them spontaneously catching on fire while people are riding them.”

When SIU announced the ban Jan. 13, it joined more than 30 universities, including at least seven in Illinois, in limiting the use of the self-balancing electric scooters. Other Illinois schools include Western Illinois, Illinois Wesleyan, Governors State, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Eastern Illinois, Northern Illinois and Bradley. 

SIU’s policy is similar to that of U of I and WIU — no hoverboards allowed on campus at all. Other universities, such as NIU, are a bit more lax by allowing the segways anywhere on campus except in on-campus apartments, residence and dining halls. 

If Saluki students are caught with the hoverboards, Goldsmith said they will be warned not to use them again. If a student is repeatedly caught with the device, Student Rights and Responsibilities will get involved and tougher punishment could be given.

Marcus Thompson, a freshman from Chicago studying sports administration, said it will take more than a warning to stop him from riding. 

“The only way I’m going to stop is if they find me,” Thompson said. “If they give me a ticket, and I have to pay for it, that’s going to make me stop.”

However, not all students have a rebellious mentality. 

Allen Shelton, the campus’ student representative for the SIU Board of Trustees, said he enjoyed riding a hoverboard at the university before the new policy, but safety is of the utmost importance.

“If it’s going to be more safe for students to live in the dorms and not have to worry about fire hazards, I think it’s better safe than sorry to a certain extent,” Shelton said. “It’s just a precautionary thing.”

Shelton said he believes the ban on hoverboards will be lifted if safety concerns change.

“It was explained to me that once those safety regulations and glitches are fixed with hoverboards, it’s not that hard to be able to lift the ban,” Shelton said. “The last thing I think SIU wants to do is deprive the students of having a good time and enjoying their hoverboards.”

Goldsmith didn’t say the status will change in the near future, but said the university doesn’t want to administer fines or confiscate someone’s property because of repeat infractions. 

“We hope we don’t need to go that far,” Goldsmith said. “The goal isn’t to penalize people — it’s to protect campus safety.”

Tierra Carpenter can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3325.

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