Rollin’ on out: University bans hoverboards on campus

Loraina London-Calderon, Staff Writer

n“Hoverboards” have recently been banned from St. John’s University due to safety hazards, as well as problems that have been caused by their use in buildings and around campus, according to an email sent out through Student Affairs.

The hoverboard was first introduced to the general public in late 2015.

It serves  as a self-balancing two-wheeled board that accelerates and stops when you shift your weight.

The boards became a problem when lithium ion batteries inside the product began to cause fires around the country, due to a lack of charging with regular electricity outlets.

Top airlines such as United Airlines, American and British Airways prohibited hoverboards from appearing on flights, according to the New York Daily News.

In New York City, the popular item was banned in late 2015 not only due to their safety hazards, but also because they are motorized vehicles that cannot be registered by the DMV. Access to hover boards is simple; they don’t require insurance or a license to operate. 

Starting in 2016, safety laws were passed around on the country, ranging from helmet enforcement to age restriction. Eventually, hoverboards were entirely prohibited.

New York City happened to be one of the places where the board is now illegal to ride. Failure to adhere to the prohibition can result in a $200 fine.

The campus is considered private property even within New York City limits, therefore the University was able to prohibit hoverboards separately from the state. 

In banning the board, St. John’s claims they are trying to keep its students safe by banning their use from campus.

“Information regarding device safety, injuries associated with using the devices, fire hazards while charging devices, and NYC law caused us to think about the best interest and the safety of our University community,” said Jackie Lochrie, associate dean for student services, in an email interview.

Freshman Cheyenne Engstrom believes the University decision to ban the hoverboards was a smart one, calling the product a “fad.”

“Banning them sped up the process because it was an inconvenience to everyone,” she said.

However, freshman Gary Lauritano had already purchased a hoverboard when the university announced their conclusion.

“I feel like I just spent $400 to not be able to ride it on campus,” he said. “I understand it was a safety issue, but I would have liked to have been notified before I went out and bought one.”

The University’s main concern was that students could cause a fire or ride them out of buildings during times of emergency, not only causing issues for themselves but others as well. When Lochrie was asked if the University would ever consider possibly changing the rules to having students wear helmets and/or adding areas for designated use, she replied that it “would only meet some of the concern.”

Freshman Danielle Probst, who previously owned a hoverboard, agrees with the school’s reasoning for the banning of the item.

“Honestly, I thought it was a smart decision for the school to do that,” she said. “Nobody wants to have to leave the building at 3 a.m. because someone’s hoverboard blew up. That’s why I sold it. Personally, I think they’re not worth the danger.”

According to Lochrie, the University has not received any complaints about board-use in buildings before the new rule was put into action, or any backlash from placing the prohibition on campus.

“Students can make arrangements to mail their device home through the University mailroom,” said Lochrie. “Public Safety as well as administration simply wants to ensure the safety of all students at all times and when the boards began to threaten that, they combined decided it was time for them to go.”