Sep 072005
Authors: Lee Newville

What's better than doing a backside crooked grind off a railing on campus? Not being on duty that day for campus maintenance.

Every year, university landscape architect Fred Haberecht estimates illegal skateboarding on campus racks up thousands of dollars worth of damage. Such damage occurs from skateboarders "tricking" off of rails, walkway boarders, fountains and other campus infrastructures.

While skateboarding through campus is not illegal, tricking is strictly forbidden because of the catastrophic damage that occurs to campus monuments.

"You see all these bumper stickers that say 'skateboarding is not a crime,'" said Yvonne Paez , public information officer with the CSU Police Department. "Well no, it's not if you would not damage property."

Paez explained the monuments on campus suffering the worst damage are "designed for visual appeal and not for durability." You can't take boards and things and go slamming on them," she said.

Granite lined fountains around campus are now scratched by skateboarders, Paez said.

"These things are expensive and you think, 'who would have thought to go skateboarding on it and go trashing it,'" Paez said. "It's hard to comprehend. If I take a hammer or some other hard thing, am I going to cause damage? Yes, but they do it anyway."

Haberecht also voices frustration over the damage to campus property.

"On the east side of Eddy, there's benches that are great gathering places," Haberecht said. "Those benches are being destroyed by skateboarders."

However, he explains the fight against illegal skateboarding is not just for aesthetics; it is also a matter of safety.

"There are hand rails on campus there for people that are unsteady on their feet or visually impaired. That skateboarder who comes in and tears it up and put burrows on the handrails is doing nothing for the person that is blind that needs a smooth uninterrupted hand rail to get up those stairs," Haberecht said. "That handrail is there for a good reason."

Haberecht said the difficulty of keeping boarders off monuments was compounded when the Collegian ran a photograph of a student skateboarding in an off-limits area.

"The photograph implies that is an acceptable activity," Haberecht said.

While maintenance and police work to educate students along with enforcing rules, Haberecht said consideration of others is the best way to stop illegal skateboarding.

He wishes skateboarders would "consider their impact on other users, more so than the cost. That bench you're destroying is there to accommodate the campus; the seat-wall you're destroying is there to accommodate a whole campus community; that handrail you're destroying is there to accommodate a person who needs to traverse stairs, and those resources you're destroying would be better spent on other resources."

Despite his impassioned plea, the aggravations of campus police and maintenance are often met by those of skateboarders.

Shannon Oberig, a sophomore who has been skateboarding since he was 16, explained that not only did he not understand the rules about when and where skateboarding is acceptable, but said campus police were simply ticket friendly and hostile to boarders.

"Most other skaters are pretty good," Oberig said. "People tell me there's a cop around the corner and not to skate. I guess we look out for our own."

Oberig was also skeptical about the damage to campus property.

"For the most part, it's just some paint scraped off," he said. "I think it's mostly from bikers. You'd have to be a pretty heavy skater to do that kind of damage."

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