Columbus State University bans hoverboards

The spreading ban of fire-hazardous hoverboards at colleges across the country has reached Columbus State University.

Effective immediately, the two-wheeled, motorized scooters are prohibited on CSU's main and RiverPark campuses, the university announced Tuesday in an email to students, faculty and staff.

As of last week, more than 30 universities had banned or restricted hoverboards, according to the Associated Press, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission was investigating 28 fires in 19 states linked to the scooters' battery packs or chargers.

The email from CSU vice president for student affairs Gina Sheeks and CSU assistant vice president for campus safety Rus Drew cited the concerns expressed by the commission. That's why the CSU hoverboard ban covers their possession and storage, not only their use.

Drew, who also is CSU's police chief, told the Ledger-Enquirer in an interview that his office hasn't had any reports of incidents linked to hoverboards, so the ban is a precautionary measure.

"We're just trying to keep abreast of the safety concerns that are happening on other campuses," he said.

Asked how many hoverboards are at CSU, Drew said an informal survey of residence life staff before the Christmas break indicated "maybe a dozen" were stored in university housing. He has noticed "one or two" being used on campus as he makes his rounds each day. The 2016 spring semester started Monday at CSU, and officials were concerned more hoverboards had arrived with returning students who received them as holiday gifts.

Because the RiverPark campus is in downtown, Drew acknowledged, enforcing the ban there will be trickier than on main campus. "Our policy is only good on university property," he said. "When you step on the city street, that's not our policy."

"Columbus State University will continue to monitor the ongoing federal investigation regarding hoverboard safety and may reconsider the provisional ban as appropriate based on the outcome and recommendations of national consumer safety investigations and/or best practices recommended by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia," CSU's announcement said.

Approximately 10 other USG institutions among the state's 30 have banned hoverboards and another "six or so" are considering such a policy, CSU spokesman John Lester told the L-E in an email.

It was too soon to gauge student reaction. CSU Student Government Association president Tyler Davidson wasn't reached for comment.

Mark Rice, 706-576-6272. Follow him on Twitter@MarkRiceLE.