It would be difficult to find anyone who hasn’t seen skateboarders outside the campus bookstore every now and then.
What may be less apparent, however, is that the skateboarders’ meetings are not as spur-of-the-moment as they might appear.
There is a Stony Brook University Skateboarding Club, and it plays a large part in trying to develop and maintain a skater community on campus through a Facebook page and a phone application called GroupMe.
“Right now we’re more like a network between all of the skateboarding students and very much like an enthusiasts’ club,” said senior Ken Myers the club’s president and founder.
Murmurs have lingered around skating circles on campus of the hope for a recreational area designated for skaters to use without having to worry about the police or pedestrians.
“We’d like a place that we can call home on campus,” said senior Chris Lu the club’s secretary, and said that even a flat stretch of land “in the middle of nowhere” would satisfy him. Lu also said that such a designated area would “help us skate and comply with the university because we’re not here to try and break the rules. We’re trying to work with the system.”
The university’s policy on skateboarding, rollerblading and cycling is that they cannot be done recreationally on campus and should be used for “transportation purposes only on sidewalks that are clear of pedestrian traffic.”
The granting of a ‘designated area,’ however, seems slim. According to Myers, there’s not much that they can do about it.
“There are other universities out there where they have a skate park, but at Stony Brook University if you want land set aside for anything you have to go through the state, and that can take a long time,” said Myers, who is also a USG senator.
Myers said that during his freshman year at the university he had tried to speak to the Associate Dean and Director of Student Life Susan DiMonda and Director of Student Activities Anthony LaViscount about the club’s desires, but neither were able to help him.
DiMonda tried to help the club in other ways, though, Myers said. That same year, DiMonda wrote a letter to the Chief of Police on the Skateboarding Club’s behalf, asking that they sit down with Myers and hear the club out over a change in policy. According to Myers, the only response had been “a big ‘no.’”
The university’s policy also states that skateboarders, cyclists and rollerbladers are prohibited from “wearing radio/cassette/mp3 players, head phones, ear phones, ear buds or similar listening devices” while traveling and they may not be “towed by bicycles or motor vehicles.”
The policy further states that people breaking these rules are liable for “disciplinary action” and legal citation; however, skateboarders who have been confronted by the police say that they are rarely more than verbally reprimanded.
“They show us a little more leniency because we’re students versus people who are just in the local area,” Lu said. “We go here. We pay to go here, and we do use it, per the handbook, for transportation.”
Myers said that he believed the rules had mostly come into place because people in the local community who weren’t students were coming onto campus and wrecking handrails or destroying cement.
“They kind of ruined it for the rest of us,” Myers said.
Lu said that in the early 1990s, SBU was renowned among the skating community for its skate-friendly design. But because of the strict rules and the skaters’ general attempts to follow the spirit of them (not skating in places where they can easily be heard in classrooms and not defacing school property), the club isn’t left with many event options.
“We don’t do that many events,” Myers said. “We can’t have a skateboarding contest on campus. We’d probably get in trouble for it or the police would stop us because of insurance problems or something like that.”
And so the skateboarders continue to meet in one of the only places where they find they’re generally left alone—that black-top outside the campus bookstore.
They can usually be found there during Campus Life Time, teaching the new kids old tricks, the old dogs new tricks and sharing a hobby they enjoy with any who are interested.