After news reports of combustion, CWRU decides to ban hoverboards

On Jan. 6, University Housing sent an email to all students living in university housing, announcing that hoverboard self-balancing scooters were banned on campus.

Two days later, that announcement was sent out to the entire student body.

“The decision has been made to add these items to the prohibited items list under the university student conduct fire safety policy,” the email read.

This was a result of widespread defects in the toy, which caused them to catch fire or explode.

Objects being added to this list of prohibited items is uncommon. These hoverboards are the first thing to be added to it in George O’Connell’s, the director of the Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards, one and a half years with the university.

After seeing multiple reports from news networks about the boards catching fire and seeing other universities and airlines ban these hoverboards, the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards and the Office of Residence Life staff made the call to ban the self-balancing scooters from the inside of all buildings and “any outside university property.”

These talks began around Christmas, as news reports of the devices catching fire accumulated over the month of December. The final decision to ban them was made early last week. The decision was made without any of the offices consulting student government, which is something that O’Connell says he regrets.

“I like to work with student government on things like this,” O’Connell said. However, he felt that timing made that infeasible in this case.

Considering the possibility that a few hundred students might receive hoverboards over winter break and wish to bring them back to campus, the various offices involved in the decision to ban the devices felt it was important to make that decision as quickly as possible.

“Anything that’s going to be a potential danger, especially considering how many people live in the residence halls, we’re going to err on the side of caution,” said O’Connell.

A defect in the battery of the devices can cause them to combust, and, according to Marc Rubin, the senior director of safety services and chemical safety officer for the university’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety, this problem does not seem to be specific to any sort of model or manufacturer.

According to O’Connell, there has been very little negative response to the hoverboards being banned on campus. In fact, of all the responses he received about hoverboards being banned, he says that only three of them weren’t positive.