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University of Florida Joins Colleges Banning Hoverboards

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After a series of incidents in which hoverboards - electronic skateboards - burst into flames, the University of Florida recently joined 30 other colleges and universities in banning them in residence halls. Photo by Ben Larcey/Creative Commons
After a series of incidents in which hoverboards – electronic skateboards – burst into flames, the University of Florida recently joined 30 other colleges and universities in banning them in residence halls. Photo: Ben Larcey/Creative Commons

When students move onto the University of Florida’s campus, they should leave their hoverboards behind.

Florida has joined the list of universities that now prohibit hoverboards in residence halls. The University of Florida Housing and Residence Education notified residents in an e-mail that, effective Spring 2016, hoverboards were no longer welcome.

The ban echoes concerns of more than 30 other universities and colleges around the country. The batteries in the electronic skateboards can burst into flames. Sharon Blansett, assistant to the associate vice president for Student Affairs, said UF’s Housing and Residence Education department monitored safety information released by the National Fire Protection Agency to make the decision to place a temporary ban on the devices.

She added that the ban would be in place until hoverboards can meet safety standards.

Other universities in Florida are also banning hoverboards.

A newsletter to University of Central Florida students cited, “safety concerns with the ignitability of hoverboards” as to why the boards cannot be charged, operated, stored, or used in campus housing. Florida State University and the University of North Florida have also prohibited hoverboards.

However, the universities have not decided on what actions will be taken against students who violate the hoverboard ban. Officer Wayne Clark, spokesperson for the UF Police Department, said officers can issue a state uniform traffic citation if students ride them in the bike lane or in the street just like skateboards or any other toy vehicle. If they see someone riding or charging a hoverboard in the residence hall, they alert the housing department. But hoverboards are completely legal to ride on the sidewalks, he said.

“Knowing that they are banned from the housing, we would contact the RA or the housing director to let them know that we did find it. Now what they choose to do with it afterward is the housing department’s issue. It’s not against the law. It’s not a police department thing,” Clark said.

Blansett said UF Housing is not giving out punishments to students seen using the boards. They are currently using the issue to create a safety campaign to teach students the hazards associated with riding the boards. She also said that only a handful of students brought the boards to the dorms, and agreed to remove them promptly.

Sam Gilk, a freshman living in Rawlings Hall, said he was aware of the ban, but has not seen anyone operating a hoverboard in the dorms.

“The RA’s have never said anything to us about having them, but I’ve never seen anyone trying to ride one inside,” Gilk said.

Blansett said that placing a campus-wide ban is not off the table given the other safety risks, like falling, associated with hoverboards.

“It’s all about keeping people safe. It’s not about banning or not banning. It’s about keeping people safe,” Blansett said.

 

Editors note: This story has been edited to clarify that UFPD will issue citations to hoverboard riders in bike lanes and streets. The previous version said officers do not give citations for operating the electronic skateboards.

About Hayley Zagacki

Hayley is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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