Safety concerns prompt administration to enact board ban
THE SANTA CLARA
January 7, 2016
Like drones, hoverboards will go the way of the Dodo this quarter. In an email sent over winter break by Samuel Florio, Santa Clara’s director of risk management and compliance, the university announced that the popular motorized transportation devices will no longer be allowed on campus.
“Effective immediately, the use, possession, or storage of hoverboards is prohibited in all campus buildings, including residence halls and on all campus property,” the email said.
The campus ban comes after reports of hoverboards catching fire surfaced across the country.
John Loretto, assistant director of Campus Safety Services, said that primary concern about the boards is the history of explosion, not the speed or other attributes of the devices themselves.
“There’s no rhyme or reason as to why they are catching on fire,” he said. “It seems that the less expensive ones are catching on fire more often than the expensive ones, but there’s no way for us to tell which ones are which. We just can’t afford that these things spark a fire.”
Loretto said that the enforcement of the new policy will be approached as a “learning process.” Students spotted with hoverboards will first be given a warning. If students are non-compliant, confiscation is a possibility.
Florio said the decision was not prompted by any campus incidents of combustion, but rather by the broader reports of malfunction.
Many other universities, including Loyola Marymount, George Washington, Indiana and Iowa, have implemented similar bans, Florio added.
Sophomore Benjamin Cohn, a member of the men’s basketball team who sells hoverboards through his company TheKickBucket, has mixed emotions about the ban.
“I completely understand that the campus will prioritize safety, as they should,” he said. “That’s way more important than some toy that’s fun to ride.”
However, he is concerned that the policy will affect his business.
The university asked him to stop shipping hoverboards to his campus address in September, explaining that his school mailbox number is only for personal use and could not be affiliated with his business.
Since then, Cohn has mailed the boards to his friend’s off-campus house, then transports them to his room in Graham Residence Hall. Now, he is keeping the boards at his friend’s house.
Cohn has sold approximately 30 boards since he started peddling them five months ago, four of these to Santa Clara students. He is upset that the university market is no longer open to him.
Cohn stands by his product, and said his suppliers in China who ensured that his hoverboards were up to. He hopes that the university is active in updating this policy, following safety precautions that he thinks companies will be quick to implement.
“If they’re going to be making a bold decision like this, they should be following up immediately,” Cohn said. “It shouldn’t be at the back of their mind.”
He plans to wait and see how the university implements the policy before reaching out to administrators.
The university is open to removing the ban if sufficient safety precautions are taken in order to ensure that they are no longer a fire hazard.
“Look, my kids want these things,” Loretto said. “But where do you put them? It’s quite a challenge. As soon as these standards are resolved, we don’t think there will be an issue with them being on campus.”
Contact Nicolas Sonnenburg at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.