A Petition to build a Skate spot on campus

Melissa Brown
Sports Writer 

Photo By: Camille Nevarez-Hernandez
Alex Mbuthia skates at Food Lion Skate park Downtown Asheville.

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UNC Asheville students started a petition to build a half-pipe on the school campus.
The petition, started by freshman Cassidy O’Neil, developed from a project assigned to him in his Language 120 class. His research paper was based on why skateboarding was banned on the UNCA campus.
“Technically if you look in the rule book it’s banned, but I mean there is nobody doing anything about it. You see kids skating every day,” O’Neil said.
O’Neil’s professor told him his research paper idea was great and suggested he take it a step further.
O’Neil started the petition on Feb. 5 and has acquired more than 100 signatures already.
“I feel like if we give students a direct spot, it’s not only going to progress the sport and their ability to skate but it will open up a social opportunity for not only skaters but students as well,” O’Neil said.
The project would cost about $3,000 to $4,000 depending on how large the students want the structure to be, O’Neil said. O’Neil plans to do different fundraisers while also seeking help from the school.
“I wish I could be excited about having a designated skate spot on campus but it seems like a fantasy. It would benefit not only the skaters but the campus as a whole by getting people to go outside and interact with different people. It could help support the diversity the school promotes,” said junior Diego Garcia.
Once the petition gets 150 signatures or more the next step would be to have a meeting with Chancellor Nancy J. Cable. A meeting does not mean an automatic yes, according to O’Neil.
The students would like the skate area to be located at the outlook, the empty parking lot next to the Sherrill Center. Many students go to the outlook to watch the sunset. O’Neil would like to get other students involved, such as the environmental studies students and art majors, to bring together the area. He envisions they could help with plants surrounding the area and murals painted on the concrete structures.
“Also we could have several picnic tables and maybe even in the long run a stage for music. It would be a big social meeting spot. The idea is to get some more activity on campus,” O’Neil said.
According to myproscooter.com,  a skating website, there are more than 3,100 skate parks in the U.S. and the industry brings in around $5 billion every year.
Skateboarding, like many other sports, comes with dangerous aspects such as potential injuries. In 2016, CBS news said 176 people around the U.S. are seen per day for skateboard related injuries.
“It would give us somewhere to go instead of skating under Brown Hall and other spots on campus. In my honest opinion, skaters have never been seen as something good, and I doubt the school will support liability,” Garcia said.
O’Neil, who is from the Outer Banks, has been skating since he was 8 years old. O’Neil comes from a city that has seven skate parks while Asheville only has two.
Last semester, students spoke out on the lack of skate areas and recognition, especially for women skateboarders. 
Food Lion and RAD are the two parks that are available in Asheville. Students have to travel off-campus in order to attend these parks. Food Lion has a 4.3-star rating and is open Monday- Sunday from 9 a.m – 6 p.m. RAD Skatepark is an indoor skatepark also open Monday – Sunday, but hours vary. The cost to attend is $6-$8 for members on weekdays and $10-$12 on weekends for non-members.
Skateboarding rules and regulations vary from city to city and school to school. With a $264,000 grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation, the University of Southern California did a study on how skateboarders can succeed in school and life. According to the research, many skate programs have created scholarship funds for kids to attend college and have helped create a better understanding of the sport.
“I have never seen a skate spot on a college campus but it would definitely fit the identity of Asheville,” Garcia said.