Section: News

Hoverboards ride off into sunset

Sorry, Back to the Future fans, but hoverboards have been banned on Kenyon’s campus, due to fire-safety concerns related to exploding battery packs.

Hoverboards, self-balancing scooters that resemble Segways but without handles, have recently garnered media attention over house fires ignited by hoverboard battery packs, as well as dozens of hoverboard-related injuries resulting in hospital visits. 

Meredith Harper Bonham ’92, vice president for student affairs, announced the ban via a Student-Info email on Jan. 13, timed to discourage students from bringing to campus hoverboards they may have received as holiday gifts during winter break.

“I don’t want any students to get hurt for any reason,” Bonham said in an interview with the Collegian. “In light of Kenyon’s history of fire, it’s something we take very seriously.”

Aside from bans on firearms and flammable materials, Bonham said she cannot recall a similar prior ban.

The possible fire hazards of storing hoverboards in dorms and concerns about the prudence of riding a hoverboard on Kenyon’s hilly campus were the strongest motivations for the ban.

Bonham said she has not heard any reaction from students.

Though Amanda Ogata ’19 enjoyed sharing her brother’s hoverboard in California last summer, she said she understands the reasons for a ban.

“They are really dangerous, and they’re really hard to learn,” Ogata said.

“I’ve had my fair share of falls.”

One of the house fires attributed to a hoverboard battery pack occurred near Ogata’s home.

Malfunctions and concern about the risk of fire eventually drove Ogata’s brother to return his hoverboard.

Kenyon’s ban on hoverboards is not unprecedented.

Due to concerns about the safety of the battery packs, more than 60 airlines worldwide have banned hoverboards from their planes, including American, Delta and United Airlines.

Amazon recently removed from their site all hoverboards produced by Swagway, one major American distributor of the items, from their site, and is offering full refunds for anyone who purchased a hoverboard through their website.

Kenyon joined several of its peer institutions in banning hoverboards.

These institutions, including The Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve University, cited similar concerns about fire safety in banning the products.

For the time being, any hoverboard found on campus will be shipped home at the student’s expense.

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