The Personal Safety Committee is proposing a new comprehensive policy that would update SUNY New Paltz’s Student Handbook regulations on roller blading, roller skating, skateboarding and cycling on campus.
The committee’s justification for an amended policy include: many incidents involving injury being unintentional but preventable, to lessen injury for all individuals including pedestrians and people operating non-motor vehicles, and to help mitigate damage to personal and public property.
They also emphasized that the goal is education and prevention, not punishment.
The proposed changes include to prohibit people from operating these modes of transportation in any campus building, residence hall, track or tennis court and within 20 feet of any building on campus. It would also strictly prohibit using these items between the north side of the Fine Arts Building and the north side of Jacobsen Faculty Tower Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Finally, at all times, individuals would be forbade from using these modes of transportation to go down stairs, ride them in parking lots when they are in use or doing tricks anywhere on campus that involve SUNY New Paltz property.
The current policy on hover boards on campus would remain the same: the use, possession, storing or charging of them will be prohibited anywhere on campus. Should damage to people or school property occur, the penalty will be a warning or disciplinary probation.
There have been several injuries on campus caused by non-motor vehicles, which specifically led to the process to amend the current Student Handbook rules.
Martha Teck is a history department secretary on SUNY New Paltz’s campus. In the fall semester of 2014, she was traveling from Jacobsen Faculty Tower towards the library on a Friday afternoon around 1:45 p.m. when a skateboard shot through a crowd of people and knocked her down.
She suffered serious injuries, including a broken arm and dislocated shoulder, which required months of physical therapy and surgeries. She says she still feels the lasting effects caused by the incident, adding that she can’t fully extend her arm and can’t put her elbow down on a flat surface without feeling pain.
“The sound of wheels on pavement still terrifies me,” Teck said at a forum held on campus to discuss the proposed changes on Monday, Feb. 26 and Tuesday, Feb. 27. “I don’t want any of you to go through what I went through.”
Teck added that she now keeps a class schedule pinned up next to her desk to know when the concourse will be busiest so she can avoid the potential of being hurt in an incident like this again.
At the aforementioned forums after the change in policy had been explained, the floor was opened up to students to ask questions.
Greg Navarro, a third-year digital media management and president of the Cycling Club on campus, attended the discussion on Feb. 26 and believes that the proposed changes are justified.
“I used to skateboard everywhere on campus, but realized [during the busy times] it was impossible and irresponsible,” he said. “[Skaters] are more concerned about landing a trick than they are about the well being of pedestrians and have to realize it’s not just their space.”
Navarro added that skateboarding, and now cycling, for him is an important part of life and transportation, but it’s easy to just pick them up and walk in areas where you are required to.
“I would hate to see people not skating on campus,” he said. “But if they are trying to justify damaging property, they shouldn’t do that.”
Having grown up in New York City, he said that part of the game of skateboarding is finding new spots to skate once the places you used to skate are prohibited, which he believes the skateboarders on New Paltz’s campus can find.
“People were giving me too many dirty looks when I’d skate on campus,” he said. “You can easily skate in town instead.”
Wayne Clark is a third-year biology major who doesn’t skateboard or ride a bicycle on campus. As a pedestrian, he said part of the solution is for pedestrians to be more self aware.
“People are on their phones when walking all the time,” he said. “I’m guilty of it too, but part of the problem can be solved by paying attention to your surroundings.”
Clark added that while the forum and discussion held earlier this week was a good start, there needs to be more of a debate to come to a conclusion to appease both sides.
He proposes lanes for skaters and cyclists as a compromise.
He also said that if they are proposing a change to riding non-motor vehicles on campus, there should also be more of a discussion to combat smoking on campus.
“There needs to be an enhanced smoking policy,” he said. “I ingest smoke on the concourse all the time, but I’ve never been hit by a skateboarder.”
The Student Handbook can be found on SUNY New Paltz’s website under the Student Affairs segment. The current rules and regulations on skateboarding, roller skating and rollerblading as well as cycling can be found on page 23 and more specifically No. 18.00 and 19.00 under the Administrative Regulations category.