Student Petitions To Allow Skateboarding On Campus
Penn Stater Casey McGowan started a petition on change.org to compel the university to change its anti-skateboarding policy on campus. His argument is simple: “Skateboarding when done properly is in no way damaging to property or harmful to others. It is a very practical, economical, and environmentally friendly way to get around campus. Responsible skateboarding as a means of transportation should be allowed on campus.”
McGowan said he started this petition after he was personally stopped and written up by University Police for skateboarding on campus. Before being written up, he said, he had no idea skateboarding wasn’t allowed on campus, just like many other students. “After hearing similar stories from friends and other students, then having it happen firsthand to me, I felt compelled to try to do something about it,” he said.
University policy currently states that the use of skateboards on campus is not allowed, and has strict stipulations on other types of wheeled personal vehicles not including bikes and cars. The University policy is in full here:
The use of skateboards on campus is prohibited. Roller skates, in-line skates, scooters (excluding medical), sleds, and similar coasting devices are not vehicles and are prohibited in roadways. Persons on such devices are pedestrians for traffic control purposes and may be cited for applicable violations of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code.
In addition to restrictions imposed by the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, the following prohibitions apply to the operation of roller skates, in-line skates, scooters, sleds, and similar coasting devices on the campus:
No person shall coast or ride upon any roller skates, in-line skates, scooter, sled, or similar device upon any roadway, parking area, or bicycle route, or within any building on the campus. Nor shall any person coast or ride upon any sled or similar device upon any sidewalk or improved surface used only for pedestrian traffic. Persons may coast or ride upon roller skates, in-line skates or scooters on sidewalks, provided they yield the right-of-way to pedestrians on foot. No acrobatics of any kind are permitted.
Students or employees violating these regulations are subject to disciplinary action by the University. Any other persons violating these prohibitions may be cited for Criminal Trespass for continued or repeated violations of these regulations on the campus.
McGowan said the policy against skateboarding on campus is irregularly enforced to begin with, and there’s more good than harm that comes from students skateboarding on campus.”For a university who boasts about its sustainability methods, it is also a great form of ‘green’ transportation they are prohibiting,” he said. “To me personally, I think that University Police have a lot more serious issues to worry about other than a kid just trying to get home or to class on skateboard.”
So, why can’t students skateboard to get around? “The university will argue that skateboarding is prohibited on campus because it is damaging to the property,” he said. While this is true, McGowan said, most people on campus who get in trouble for skateboards are using longboards, cruisers, or Penny Boards, and these aren’t the type of boards you use for tricks at all. McGowan said there’s an easy solution to the problem of people damaging University property using skateboards: People should be allowed to skateboard on campus, but if they’re caught “grinding” or damaging property in any way, they should be fined and lose their privilege to skateboard on campus.
“If the university really wants to control this, they can even implement a system where you must register your skateboard, like bikes must be, so that they have them on record and if any incidents were to occur, they can be traced back to the rider,” McGowan said. “So long as you skateboard responsibly, you should have the right to ride one to class. If you do not, you should lose that right. But it is not fair to the university to generalize and look down upon all skateboarders.”
Currently, the petition has 251 signatures, most of them from University Park students. McGowan said he’s also gained support from the Longboarding Club, which has fought this policy in the past.