The rising number of skaters on campus due to PLNU’s policy change three years ago causes an increase in accidents as well.
PLNU had a zero tolerance policy for skateboarding, rollerblading and riding scooters on campus. Now these are allowed, with the exception that students will not freestyle, meaning no rail grinding, stair jumping and other tricks.
“They [skateboarders, rollerbladers and scooters] should only be allowed as a means for transportation on walkways and roadways,” states the current Residential Life policy.
The policy also states that skateboarders should travel at a safe and prudent speed.
Kaz Trypuc, public safety supervisor, explained there was a shift in the culture that prompted PLNU to reconsider.
“Before there was a kind of defiant stereotype surrounding skateboarders,” he said. “Now it’s used more as a means to get around and the school recognized this and was flexible by changing with the times.”
As a result, skate culture has increased on campus. The amount of skaters on campus increases every year, said senior Jordan Reader, who is a bio-chem major.
“When it was allowed my sophomore year, I noticed a lot more and then last year it jumped a lot too,” Reader said.
Because of this increase, senior Greta Wall said skateboarders always almost hit her.
“There have been many more times this year where I’ve almost been hit walking down Caf Lane or almost hit a skater while driving,” Wall said. “They need to be more careful not to skate so close to people!”
With the increase in skaters on campus, an increase in accidents has followed. Public Safety has had four reported skating-related accidents this semester so far. On Sept. 15th, a student who Public Safety was unable to identify was bombing down the hill by Flex Apartments when he lost control. The student broke his femur and obtained minor abrasions.
“We showed up and administered first aid while waiting for the EMS response,” said Mike Cabral, public safety officer. “The ambulance evaluated him upon arrival and then lifted him to the hospital.”
According to Cabral, skaters on campus are generally respectful of the no freestyling rule. If he sees a student riding too fast, he intervenes because it’s better to do so immediately, than later with a medical kit.
“We want students to have a good experience, but we mainly want to keep them safe,” he Cabral said.
Other accidents weren’t reported, however. Sophomore Sam Roberts was in a skateboarding accident where he hit a car.
“I was skating down the hill by Nease and following a car at a pretty good distance,” he said. “The car went to turn right, but stopped abruptly and I slammed into it pretty hard.”
Roberts only got a little banged up and the car’s driver admitted fault and apologized.
Freshman Jack Alston and his skateboarding friends, otherwise known as “The Klassen Kooks,” a group of ten friends, have almost been hit by cars multiple times. They still love to skate since it’s so similar to surfing.
The possibility of Residential Life changing the rule back to no skateboards on campus isn’t completely impossible with the frequency of accidents.
“I can’t speak on the university’s behalf, but if there comes a point in time when the accidents become too frequent, I could see them reevaluating the policy,” said Cabral.
If so, Alston and his friends would fight the policy.
“We skate together all the time and it’s a fun activity that brings us closer as friends,” Alston said.