Skating Grows on Campus at San Jose State
These days, you can find students riding longboards and regular skateboards constantly throughout the SJSU campus. It is not only an easy way to get around school, but it has also become a widely used mode of transportation for commuting to and from campus as well. Longboarding and skateboarding students enjoy the convenience of riding their boards to class and then being able to bring them into the classroom without much trouble, but aside from longboarding and skateboarding for transportation purposes, some students enjoy riding for more recreational reasons.
“I just skate as a hobby,” said Ben Truong, a business major at San Jose State University. “The ground here is smooth for the types of tricks I do. I drive my car to campus, but my hobby is to skate on campus.”
“The school has a lot of commuters,” said Alex Imai, a junior radio, television and film major and president of the Locomotion Longboarding club on campus. “Some of us live down all the way on 9th Street, so it’s just an easy way to get to class.”
“I choose to longboard because it cuts my commute to school by more than half the time,” said junior computer science major Kevin Lai. “I used to do it for fun. I learned tricks and stuff on my long board and bombed down hills. I don’t have time for that stuff anymore, so I just commute with it.”
The fad can be accepted in one of two ways on a college campus: A danger to students who choose to walk to class, or as a quicker and more productive means of getting to class. It is clear by the trend spreading from college campus to college campus that longboarding or skateboarding to class has become the next big thing.
“It’s an easy way to get to class,” Imai said. “The school has a crazy amount of longboarders.”
Locomotion Longboarding of SJSU has gone from just a few members to 276, many of which participate weekly in a meeting in front of Cesar Chavez Plaza on the SJSU campus every Wednesday at 9 p.m.
“It started five or six years ago,” Imai said. “We were just getting like a group of people to come out and skate every night, and then eventually so many people were coming out that they wanted to make it into a recognized school club.” Locomotion Longboarding is now one of the largest independent clubs on campus, tallying just less than 300 members. Of the 276 club members, more than 50 participate in weekly meetings and events on a regular basis.During the Wednesday meetings, the club members simply get together and enjoy an activity they all know and love.
“We want to promote skate safety, and that (longboarding) is not just a means of transportation,” Imai said. “It can be ways to make lots of friends and to be a part of a big group of people and community.”
Not all college campuses allow longboarding, however. San Diego State University has a strict no longboarding policy that restricts any form of transportation with wheels on campus. According to SDSU’s The Daily Aztec, skateboards, longboards, rollerblades and scooters were all banned from the SDSU campus based on the reasoning that the campus holds a great number of students who walk from class to class, and the transportation devices only make the campus a more crowded and dangerous place for students.
The Associated Students Board at SDSU is set to reevaluate the ban this semester, but the proposal is to open up bike lanes which skateboarders, longboarders, rollerbladers and scooter-users will use to get to class. Cal State Fullerton is another college campus that does not allow longboarders or other means of wheeled transportation on campus.
“I personally have never felt like I’ve endangered anyone while skating,” Imai said. “I honestly don’t think you can go that fast on campus to hurt someone, and I’ve never heard of anyone having a recognized injury on campus from skating, though I do understand why they would place it.”
The SJSU president, along with board members, and administrators have set their own rules about riding on campus as well. According to SJSU Campus Riding Regulations, non-motorized vehicle riders shall follow these “common courtesy” rules:
1. Always yield to pedestrians.
2. Drive an appropriate speed according to existing conditions, not to exceed the campus speed limit for all vehicles of 5 mph.
3. Drive in an appropriate manner that does not interfere with pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
4. Walk vehicle when there is no clear path ahead, such as when the walkway is too crowded with pedestrians or other obstructions.
5. Do not ride in an acrobatic or stunting manner, i.e. activities causing one or more sets of wheels to leave the ground or other surfaces intended for pedestrian or vehicular travel.
6. Do not ride on stairs; ramps, railings, vegetation, benches, tables, planters, or other surface not intended for vehicular travel.
7. Do not ride inside University buildings.
8. Dismount and walk vehicle where appropriate signs are posted. Posted dismount areas will be high pedestrian traffic areas with small or obstructed pathways. Designated dismount areas will be in affect between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday to Friday.
9. Walking with any vehicle is permitted throughout the campus grounds.
For how much the trend has risen to significant numbers around college campuses, the prices of longboards would not traditionally translate to college students with little money to spend. Mainland Skate and Surf, a local skate shop in San Jose, sells their “Sector 9 Sprocket” longboard for $238.99.
“Sector 9” longboards are considered the “everyday longboard,” according to some members of Locomotion Longboarding.
The cheapest longboard found at Mainland Skate and Surf is the “Sector 9 The 76” for $108.99.
“We’re college kids. We’re like the poorest people on the planet,” Imai said.
He said although the price tag is significant, the fun and enjoyment one can get out of it far outweighs what the typical longboarder would pay in the end.
“My favorite thing about longboarding is the feeling you get when you ride — Especially at night by yourself,” Lai said. “It’s a really great way to clear your mind.”
By Amy Nilson, Rochelle Beckel, and Scott Semmler