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Thursday, March 5, 2020

Spin scooter squad at UCF inspires nighttime hijinks

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2020 at 5:47 PM

click to enlarge Dozens of UCF students gather every Friday night at 9 p.m. to ride around campus as "Spin Squad," a social group that formed recently due to the new scooters on campus. - LILLIAN M. HERNÁNDEZ CARABALLO
  • Lillian M. Hernández Caraballo
  • Dozens of UCF students gather every Friday night at 9 p.m. to ride around campus as "Spin Squad," a social group that formed recently due to the new scooters on campus.
Under King Buddy Dyer's decree, the city of Orlando has started seeing more and greener alternatives for transportation in 2020. With the start of the new year, downtown Orlando got electric scooters, as did the University of Central Florida.

Spin, a micro-mobility company from California, started the semester with the launch of 450 Spin scooters on UCF's campus – and the students have taken the electric-scooter lifestyle to another level.



Meet Spin Squad, a UCF social group that revolves around the new Spin scooters on campus.

"I'm the one who started the whole thing," says Derek Murdza, a sophomore computer engineering major at UCF and the founder of Spin Squad. "Everyone was talking about the videos of the giant groups of scooters."
Murdza says he is happy at the unexpected turnout and the fun it has brought to campus. He started the group almost by accident, trying to galvanize a close group of friends by sharing a GroupMe link that ended up going locally viral.

The GroupMe chat he started is now up to over 700 members, including the President and co-founder of Spin, Euwyn Poon.

"The way UCF students have embraced Spin shows the joy scooters can bring to campus life," Poon says. "We are thrilled that the UCF community has taken to this product with such enthusiasm. Our hope is that this continues to become a bigger part of campus life and eases travel for students, faculty, staff and visitors.”
click to enlarge Dozens of UCF students gather every Friday night at 9 p.m. to ride around campus as "Spin Squad," a social group that formed recently due to the new scooters on campus. - LILLIAN M. HERNÁNDEZ CARABALLO
  • Lillian M. Hernández Caraballo
  • Dozens of UCF students gather every Friday night at 9 p.m. to ride around campus as "Spin Squad," a social group that formed recently due to the new scooters on campus.
UCF student journalist Perry Kaplan says Spin Squad members gather every Friday night and ride out at 9 p.m. from Memory Mall. In his article, Kaplan says riders zip around the university chanting "one of us" at anyone not on a scooter.

On the night we visited Spin Squad, the group beckoned "join us!" when riding past pedestrians, giving an eerie cultish vibe that made the squad all the more intriguing.

Up close, however, you find a less ominous scene. Students wore costumes like banana suits and electronic reptile heads – there was even someone dressed as Jesus Christ.

To the tune of a boombox attached to a Spin scooter, the students map out their route and take off right at 9 o'clock sharp, after going over the rules and reiterating the spirit of their events.
The group has become a Friday night alternative hangout for students looking to have fun and make new friends.

"I think it's brought a lot of people together that may not have met each other otherwise," said Thomas Adkinson, the leader of the squad that evening, who was addressing his crowd with a loudspeaker.

Adkinson reminded the group of safety rules and what to do in case of a police officer intervention. He also introduced special guest Jesus Christ, as everyone got ready to spin out.

We will likely not be seeing a Spin Squad in our downtown Orlando area, but enthusiasm for e-scooters is clear. Spin e-scooters downtown cost $1 to unlock and 29 cents a minute. At UCF, they are only 15 cents a minute.

It's proof that when electronic scooters are more affordable, unexpected and magical things can happen.
click to enlarge Spin scooters can be conveniently left anywhere in town. Just make sure to park them safely. - COURTSEY OF SPIN
  • Courtsey of Spin
  • Spin scooters can be conveniently left anywhere in town. Just make sure to park them safely.
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