June 30, 2005

SIUC clamps down on roller blade, skateboard use

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Growing problems resulting from the inappropriate use of roller blades, in-line skates and skateboards are prompting Southern Illinois University Carbondale officials to increase penalties for those who violate guidelines.

SIUC Department of Public Safety Director Todd D. Sigler said officials are seeing more people using the equipment on retaining walls, stairs and handrails. The "grinding" tears down and defaces property, he said.

Sigler emphasizes that the equipment is a legitimate form of transportation to go to class and to travel while on campus. But there are people who use various locations on campus to trick-skate. Other problems include injuries to those on boards or skates, and numerous noise complaints, particularly around Faner Hall, Sigler said.

People who operate skateboards, in-line skates or roller blades inside buildings, around building entrances, on steps, handrails, and wheelchair ramps, or who use the equipment for something other than transportation purposes now face heftier penalties. The fine is now $50, up from $7, and police will confiscate the equipment until the fine is paid, Sigler said.

The new regulations apply to everyone. In addition, SIUC students are subject to judicial affairs sanctions, Sigler said. Violators will initially receive warning tickets; repeat violators will receive citations.

Sigler empathizes with skateboarding and roller-skating aficionados who search for places to work on trick skating. Officials are seeking compliance and not looking to hand out citations, he said.

"It has been an ongoing nuisance problem," Sigler said. "It has been a problem of destruction of University property. It is very expensive to repair the damage, and something had to be done."

Sigler notes there is a skateboard park on campus located behind Lesar Law Building. The 8,700-square-foot facility opened in 2001 on converted basketball courts. The skateboard park is available to students and the general public, and is open from 10 a.m. to dusk. No one under 7 years old may use the facility, and an adult must accompany children 7 to 15 years old. Those using the facility must wear protective gear at all times.

Promoting campus safety is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.