UCSB skateboarders wishing to defend their prime mode of transportation on campus will have the opportunity to speak this week during two public town hall meetings in the UCen.
The identical meetings will take place this Wednesday and Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Harbor Room, located on the first floor, and will feature presentations as well as a public comment period. The sessions, hosted by Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Donna Carpenter, will center on possible skateboard restrictions, which were first discussed during an Associated Students Commission on Public Safety meeting in February.
During the A.S. C.O.P.S. meeting, Student Health Director Elizabeth Downing reported that between 25 and 30 skateboard-related injuries are reported to her organization each month. Since then, a handful of campus groups have considered requesting skateboarding restrictions on campus.
Policy and Records Management Coordinator Meta Clow said she believes there is a problem on campus regarding some skateboarders, but she hopes the community can reach an agreement through broader communication.
“When everyone has a voice, people are more likely to compromise for the good of the people,” Clow said. “We are trying to respect the different voices we have heard thus far.”
She said skateboard education centering on respectful and safe riding is one proposed resolution to the issue.
Environmental Health & Safety Director Larry Parsons said he agrees that skateboard safety education is a step in the right direction.
“It is time [the policy] be reviewed anyway, because it was proposed before cell phones and iPods were even in use,” Parsons said. “The policy dates back to 1988.”
He also said that when he first came to UCSB 29 years ago, bikes were a huge problem as well. However, bike safety education and university improvements dramatically decreased these bike issues, Parsons said.
“I would like to see some solutions that allow for the safe use of different modes of transportation,” Parsons said. “But it is up to the students and administration.”
Meanwhile, defendants of the current UCSB skateboard policy are gathering support via a group and events on Facebook. Alex Proctor, creator of the group “Save Skateboarding to Class on Campus,” said he is skeptical of any potential policy changes that may occur as a result of these meetings.
“I expect them to pass some ‘resolution’ … that really won’t do anything to stop accidents, but [will] create a new revenue source for campus police and [the Community Service Organization],” Proctor, a fourth-year physics and mathematics major said. “In other words, another excuse to write tickets.”
He also said that it is important to preserve current skateboard policies for students who cannot afford alternative forms of transportation.
“Bikes are great and all that, but not everyone has one,” Proctor said. “I have had more than one bike since I came to UCSB, and every single one has been stolen. Skateboarding has always been my favorite way of getting around.”
The policies regarding skateboards on campus are currently under evaluation by the Campus Regulations Review Committee, a group which meets every four years to revise UCSB guidelines. The committee consists of four undergraduate and two graduate students, as well as representatives from the Residence Hall Association, the Office of the Ombuds, the Office of Student Life, the Association for Student Judicial Affairs and university staff.
According to the current policy, skateboarding is permitted when used primarily as transportation but does not allow for trick or recreational skateboarding.
Senior Planner for Campus Planning and Design Dennis Whelan said this form of skateboarding harms university infrastructure.
“Trick or recreational skateboarding grinds down the campus,” Whelan said. “I have actually seen parents drive kids up to Cheadle Hall and drop them off. That really does steam me. As recreation, it has no place on our campus. It is two different things.”