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Saint Mary’s bans ‘hoverboards’ and drones

| Friday, January 15, 2016

Following many college and universities across America, the Saint Mary’s administration made the decision to add drones and electronic self-balancing skateboards known as “hoverboards” to the list of prohibited items on campus. A drone is a remote-controlled, pilotless aircraft that has become commercialized in recent years which can be used for many purposes ranging from photography to Amazon deliveries. 

Karen Johnson, the vice president of student affairs, said she led a group of people on campus who made the decision in order to protect student safety.

“The drone issue is that we are right on the take-off and landing pattern of the [South Bend] airport,” Johnson said. “The fire issue [with ‘hoverboards’] is a big concern. We did not want an item in the residence hall or in a building that could catch on fire when nobody was around to see it happen.”

Assistant vice president for student affairs Janielle Tchakerian said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandates the rules regarding the drones.

“FAA prohibits drone operators to stay out of airport flight paths and restricted airspace areas, and obey any FAA Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs),” Tchakerian said. “Since Saint Mary’s College is in the flight path to the South Bend airport, we wanted to inform our students that for the safety of the manned aircrafts flying above our campus that drones are prohibited.”

Though the fire concerns with “hoverboards” and the airport regulations regarding drones have not been an issue on campus, Johnson said the administration is acting proactively on the matter. Saint Mary’s students received an email outlining the new prohibitions before leaving campus for winter break.

“When ‘hoverboards’ become more safe or they solve the problems with the batteries, we may permit them,” Johnson said. “We have skateboards all over campus now, bicycles, skates, all that.”

Johnson said there is no set procedure for cases in which students are found with these items, but she would ask the student to take the item home as soon as possible or the College would confiscate the item and put it in a safe place until the student can take it home.

Tchakerian said the decision to prohibit the items ultimately ensures the safety of everyone on campus.

“[The rules] benefit the entire Saint Mary’s community because, by implementing these two policies, we are putting the safety of our community members — both on campus and those who fly above us — safer.”

A comprehensive list of items prohibited on campus can be found on the College’s website.

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About Nicole Caratas

Nicole is a senior English Writing and Humanistic Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. Now a senior news writer, she previously served as the Saint Mary's Editor. She was born in real Chicago but grew up in the suburbs, and she currently lives in Opus Hall.

Contact Nicole