By John Ewen
As quickly as we said hello to the hoverboard craze that took the world by storm, UConn, along with several other universities across the country, are saying goodbye.
As of January 7th, the two-wheeled self-balancing scooters are no longer allowed to be charged, stored, or used in residence halls on campus. The ban comes after issues with the boards catching on fire became a growing concern.
“The main issue from our point was spontaneous combustion of the hoverboards, whether you’re operating them, or the other concern was when you’re charging them,” said UConn Fire Department Chief John Mancini. “Most of the time when you’re charging it it’s inside of a building, and there were two confirmed building fires in the United States directly related to hoverboards charging.”
Mancini said the university closely examined the cases of the boards catching on fire and deemed the risk was too much of a threat.
Bans of the boards began popping up across the nation in December, as UConn joined the likes of Boston College, Butler University, Quinnipiac University, and over 30 other schools, according to an article released by USA Today earlier this month. Mancini said seeing other schools and organizations instituting new policies led to UConn taking action.
“The first thing that caught our eye about this was campuses started banning them, we saw that airlines banned them because of the possibility, we saw that Amazon, probably one of the biggest suppliers of hoverboards, stopped selling them and shipping them because of the reason.”
Amazon banned the sale of Swagway brand hoverboards in mid-December because of the fire issues.
The new policy instituted by the fire department is not the only restriction on hoverboards on UConn property. Parking Services manager Dwight Atherton said in an email that hoverboards were prohibited under Section 8.4 of the Rules and Regulations for Control of Parking and Vehicles on the Grounds of the University of Connecticut. The policy states “No motorized skateboard or similar wheeled devices may be propelled on any University property,” as governed by Connecticut State Vehicle and Traffic Laws.
Mancini says he had received a few emails from students disagreeing with the new policy, but stressed the reasoning behind the change was strictly a safety concern.
“I understand the concern from the students, but we’re doing it solely as a safety issue. We want to make sure our campuses are safe.”
Reactions to the policy were mixed across campus.
“I think it’s a little odd,” said UConn senior Don. “I mean, there are cases of some of the chargers blowing up, but there are also cases of some Mac laptop chargers blowing up, so I don’t know. I think it was a little bit rushed, I think it was more about not having the hoverboards at all and that was just an easy excuse.”
Others, like sophomore Ben McCoy-Redd, will not miss the hoverboards anytime soon.
“I think it makes sense, mostly because of so many recalls have been having to go through manufacturers, problems with lithium batteries, and just the fact that they slow down traffic on campus, so I’m really glad they’re gone.”