Skate Club returns to the SEC Plaza as an unofficial club

A Skate Club member grinds a homemade rail in front of the SEC on Wednesday, Feb. 7 in the SEC Plaza.
A Skate Club member grinds a homemade rail in front of the SEC on Wednesday, Feb. 7 in the SEC Plaza.
Carter Pardue

Editor’s note: This story was originally published online in truncated form. The full story can be found below.

Crack, zooooom, “Yeaaaaaaah.”

Once again, these sounds echo through the winter air as the Oregon State University Skate Club rides across the Student Experience Center Plaza for the first time in over a year.

The OSU Skate Club is primarily a group of skateboarders who gather every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the SEC Plaza to skate. While a majority of the members are skateboarders, the club welcomes “anyone with wheels,” which includes rollerbladers and roller skaters.

A Skate Club member doing a trick on a homemade rail on Wednesday, Feb. 7, in the SEC Plaza. (Carter Pardue)

However, the club has decided to not renew their recognition as an official OSU club. While they will still be a part of OSU’s Clubs and Organizations for now, the club will cease to be acknowledged as an official club over the summer.

Colin Pannikkat, a second-year computer science and sustainability major at OSU and president of the Skate Club, felt the requirements the Memorial Union wanted from the club to use the SEC Plaza weren’t realistic.

He said the reason the MU gave was that the club didn’t have insurance. Additionally, they would need to set up padding and flooring around the entire plaza for safety reasons.

“What we found is that every time we addressed one of the reasons, they would bring up a new reason,” Pannikkat said. “The way that we kinda equated this is that they were constantly moving the goalposts for us to achieve.”

In the process of getting the club covered by insurance, Pannikkat said he was told not through an official statement to the club, but in an unrelated conversation with Danté Holloway,  assistant director for OSU Student Organizations and Activities, that they needed to get insurance by winter term.

According to Holloway, the SOA does an annual renewal of club memberships and a part of this process is evaluating risk and the need for insurance.

“As part of that review, the Skate Club leadership was informed in early August they would need to secure liability insurance to be recognized,” Holloway said. “We provisionally approved their recognition, giving them until the start of winter term to secure the insurance.”

Members of the OSU Skate Club stand in the SEC Plaza on Feb. 7. (Carter Pardue)

While the club was able to eventually obtain insurance, they were not able to agree with the MU about the padding and flooring.

Pannikkat believes that part of the reason why the administration had an issue with the club is because of outdated notions of skateboarding present in campus administration.

“Like with any other activity on campus, if the group can meet the health and safety expectations and requirements set forth by the facility, they should be able to reserve and use the space for this purpose,” Holloway said.

The club was originally started by Carter James, an OSU alumni. The club started as an extension of his friend group, but grew larger when he started hosting skate sessions at the SEC Plaza.

In April of 2022, James noticed the interest in the club had grown and filed an application for the club to be an official club through OSU Student Organizations and Activities. In February of 2023, they were approved as an official OSU club.

In an essay Pannikkat wrote for class about Skate Club, he details the frustrations James went through while attempting to actualize the club.

“I could feel Carter’s frustration as he told me this,” Pannikkat wrote. “I could tell that all he wanted to do was skate with his friends and foster an inclusive environment for all types of skaters to meet up and socialize. To me, it felt more so as he felt punished by the university for becoming an official club.”

Some of the alternative spaces that the skate club looked towards were basketball courts and parking lots around campus, but there were concerns about damaging the courts and the school wanting to use parking lots for parking.

Dietrich Lachmann, a computer science and chemistry major at OSU who was one of the founding members of the club, mentions that despite skateboarding being in the Olympics, that there is still a stigma around the sport.

“We work hard, we’re good kids…We just want to come together and skate and the fact that the school wants to shut that down, it makes me feel bad for the people who found the club as an outlet,” Lachmann said.

While the club won’t be official after spring term, Pannikkat still plans to host skating sessions at the SEC Plaza.

“We found that in trying to become an official club for the university, we have essentially lost the whole purpose of the club” Pannikkat said. “It gave us funding. It gave us resources…but with all those resources, we were kind of drained of the main core thing that made us a Skate Club at OSU, which was being able to skate on campus at OSU in the SEC Plaza.”

For more information about the Skate Club, see their instagram here.

One of the Skate Club members plays with a mini skateboard on Wednesday, Feb. 7, in the SEC Plaza. (Carter Pardue)
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