Although Temple University continuously embraces its diversity, one of the most visible groups on campus still feels misunderstood.
The skaters are not only hounded by campus police and students alike, but are blamed for damaging campus property and causing safety hazards.
Skaters quickly defend their sport.
Inline skater Rhett Grumbkow, a junior at Temple, insists that his blades do no damage to the campus. Pointing to the plastic bottoms of his skates, he argues, “This plastic can’t damage marble! It’s the bikers that chew up the ledges.”
Mike, a 27-year-old skateboarder from South Philadelphia, described skating as “a unique physical discipline” which combines both graceful and aggressive elements.
People have misconceptions about skating because it is not a widely practiced sport. They don’t understand because they didn’t grow up doing it.
Mike claims that skating promotes a less-segregated culture than most sports. People who vary in age, sex, race and backgrounds unite in the skating scene. Professional skaters visit the same parks as 8-year-old kids.
“It’s the equivalency of a kid playing football with the Philadelphia Eagles. You don’t find that anywhere else,” Mike adds.
Professional skateboarder Chris Cole frequently visits Temple’s campus to skate. As a professional, he makes money from skating appearances and endorsements.
“Temple students should know that skating is harder than it looks,” Cole said.
Skateboarders and inline skaters seem to be everywhere at Temple’s main campus, but many of them do not attend the University.
Mike, a non-student, said the only reason that he travels to Temple is to skate.
“I don’t have a huge marble block in front of my house,” Mike said in reference to a popular ledge near Ritter Hall Annex.
Liacouras Walk and the area in between the Gladfelter and Anderson buildings draw skating crowds, but the Ritter area remains the most popular skate spot.
Skaters prefer Temple University because they usually do not get kicked off of the campus. Despite obvious tension between skaters and campus police, they rarely experience extremely negative confrontations.
Lieutenant Denise Wilhelm of Temple Police explained, “As far as I know, there is no official policy concerning skaters. When it becomes a hazard to pedestrians or themselves, we ask them to leave the campus,” Temple Police Lieutenant Denise Wilhelm said.
Mike sees a positive future for the skating culture. “Skaters are now having kids who are growing up skating. Hopefully in the next 20 years it will be more commonplace. It won’t be so ostracized. There will be more places for us to go and no big stigma of how dangerous it is.”
Kiana HarrisJosephine Munis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org