The University has prohibited drones, hoverboards, self-balancing scooters, battery-operated scooters, hands-free Segways, electric-powered skateboards and similar devices on campus. Public Safety notified the community in a university-wide email sent last Thursday.
Patrick Linfante, director of Public Safety, cited a warning from the New Jersey Division of Fire Safety that the devices represent a fire hazard while being charged.
Linfante is concerned about “reports that fires started as a result of hoverboards overheating while being charged and some just bursting into flames while being ridden.”
If anyone is caught with a prohibited device on campus, the item will be confiscated, Public Safety added in a second email. Drones are only allowed on campus “for contractual or civil purposes” and must meet all Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines, according to Linfante.
“This announcement was issued in advance of the students’ return from break, thus alerting them that they should not bring them to campus and avoiding the confiscation of their property,” he said. Hoverboards were a most popular gift item, sold online and in stores, during the 2015 holiday season.
Some students have been disappointed by the ban.
“When I first heard the news I was pretty upset because it’s a pretty fun toy and everything, but I can’t say I don’t understand why it was banned,” said Andrew Girgis, a freshman business major. “I wasn’t really planning on bringing it to school all that often but it’s sad to know I can’t even if I wanted to.”
Many students on campus say they are not affected, and they are taking a pragmatic stance on the new policy.
“I agree with the ban,” John Pennell, a senior economics major, said. “It’s a safety issue. People could get hurt.”
Similarly, Jamie McIlvaine, senior biology and theology double major, said, “I would say that I’m not bothered by the ban. I think it’s in good spirit (and) I would expect (Public Safety) to take all precautions on our safety.”
Bryan Sosa, a junior biology major, agreed, noting that he has seen videos online of the devices catching fire.
“Even if it’s not likely, it’s (Public Safety’s) duty to make sure these things don’t happen at all, so anything that reduces the possibility of that happening is fine with me,” he said.
Since the death of three students, and injury of 58 others, in a fire in Boland Hall in 2000, Seton Hall continues to improve fire safety conditions on campus and takes fire safety seriously, according to Housing and Residence Life Director Tara Hart. Since 2000, there have been no major fire safety incidents at Seton Hall, according to Hart.
Last year, there were no reported fire safety or injury incidents on campus involving any of the banned devices, according to Linfante.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 22 instances of fires in at least 17 states, including New Jersey, where a hoverboard caused a fire in Lacey Township on Dec. 27.
Seton Hall joins around 30 other universities, including Kean University in Union, N.J., that have banned the devices.
Emily Balan can be reached at email@example.com