Longboarding: banned, but widely accepted

University police generally accept longboarding as transportation.

Sophomore computer science major Michael Black rides his longboard to campus on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013.

Image by Juliet Farmer

Sophomore computer science major Michael Black rides his longboard to campus on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013.

by David Litin

Though technically banned on campus, longboards are accepted by police as a legitimate form of transportation.

In the late 1990s, the University of Minnesota banned skateboarding on campus because of its potential to damage property.

But University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said the department allows students to use longboards because they are only using them for transport.

“If they’re going from point A to point B,” he said, “we generally don’t stop them.”

Miner said skateboarders have damaged areas around campus, including a railing by Northrop Auditorium and parking facilities.

The Board of Regents’ ordinance against skateboards defines them as a “piece of wood … mounted on skate wheels,” a definition that extends to longboards.

Longboard Club Vice President Mike Casey said he has never been told not to longboard on campus.

“They don’t actually enforce it,” Casey, an education graduate student, said.

Casey said the only time he ever received a ticket while longboarding was for running a red light.

“Cops are really fair,” he said.

Drew Swanson, a bioproducts junior and president of the Longboard Club, said he’s never felt any “discrimination” while riding his longboard.

But both Swanson and Casey said the police have every right to stop anyone for longboarding.

“It is dangerous,” Casey said.

Longboarding culture

Kristin Schulte, a University alumna, started the Longboard Club in 2009 to bring boarders together.

She said that longboarding is a cool, fun and useful way to get from place to place.

“People will notice,” Schulte said. “It’s cool.”

Schulte went into UMPD’s headquarters when she started the organization and asked if longboarding on campus was an issue.

“They said, ‘Don’t worry about it,’” she said.

When hosting rides, Casey and Swanson said they always make sure other riders wear helmets.

“In longboarding culture,” Swanson said, “safety is important.”

This is a big difference between longboarders and skateboarders, Casey said, and wearing helmets while longboarding is “breaking the skater stereotype.”

Gina Harsevoort, a studies in cinema and media culture junior, said longboarders have never bothered her.

“I don’t really see it as a problem,” she said.

Harsevoort said she finds bikers more annoying because there are more around campus.

“[Longboarding] shouldn’t be banned,” Harsevoort said, but she added that there could be a problem if longboard accidents occur more frequently.

“It’s a form of transport,” said mathematics sophomore Laura Sater.

Sater said she has never had a problem with longboarders while she rides her bike. If she needs to pass, she said she just rides around them.

Like Harsevoort, she doesn’t agree with the Regents’ policy banning longboarding.

“I think it’s a little ridiculous,” Sater said.