Lost souls

Deborah Levinson

Shoes. Shoes are wonderful. So why aren’t you wearing any?
I love the hippie, liberal attitude that is present across campus. I own Birkenstocks and torn jeans, and I can appreciate that students are looking for comfort and ease in their daily wardrobe. But really, put some shoes on.
The first few weeks of school, when I was secretly disgusted at the bare feet, I kept reminding myself that it gets cold here. Bare-footed students can’t last through the end of term. But we’re nearing the end of term and here they are. I leave for class each morning and see the frost covering the grass. And then I see the feet.
It’s cold. Just because you can walk around barefoot and not get frostbite, doesn’t mean you should.
For starters, it’s gross. Think about all the stuff people pick up on their feet when they’re wearing shoes. Do you really want that on your skin? We all step on germs and dirt, dead worms and chewed gum on a daily basis. There’s nature out there, and I’d prefer it stay out there.
Every time a shoeless person walks into a class, the library or Warch, they bring not only everything they’ve stepped on, but also their own foot sweat. It’s unhygienic for so many people to be spreading their foot germs to each other.
Nearly everyone who lives in a dorm wears flip-flops in the shower. There’s a reason for that. Showers get cleaned regularly and we still take precautions. When was the last time the sidewalk got disinfected?
And what if you step on a nail or a bee? Okay – a bee sting is not the end of the world. But a nail? I hope you’re up to date on your tetanus shots.
Bon Appétit is also in favor of shoes. We started this school year off with a sign outside Andrew Commons informing everyone interested in eating that both shoes and a shirt are required. No one wants to eat near bare feet. It’s dirty and possibly quite dangerous.
Even beyond the health and sanitation thing, it’s still completely inappropriate to be out in public in bare feet. You’re not at the beach. This is a university. Bare feet look unclean and are unprofessional. And we may live on campus, but it’s still where we learn.
I wonder why people assume it’s okay to come to class without shoes, though they can’t go into a store, a restaurant or our campus cafeteria without shoes?
My professors wear shoes to class. I wear shoes to class, and most of the other students do too. I take class seriously and I don’t need to be distracted by someone else’s feet. When a student comes barefoot to class, it tells me that he or she doesn’t take class seriously. No one would go shoeless to a job interview. Class may not be that formal, but classmates and professors still deserve some respect. Professors shouldn’t have to ask shoeless folks to leave – there shouldn’t be any shoeless folks.
I know people say it’s more comfortable to walk around without shoes. I too think bare feet are more comfortable than any shoe. But it’s also more comfortable to walk around without a shirt on and I still wear one of those every day.
I’ve also heard that not wearing shoes is a form of expression. This may be true, but there are so many other forms of expression our society doesn’t support that I find it hard to accept personal expression as a defense. Plus there are a million other ways to express yourself. You pick your clothing, your hair and your university. Now pick your shoes. Any pair you want.
It’s worth the two extra minutes it takes in the morning to just put on some socks and shoes. If you hate socks, then wear sandals. Even flip-flops are an improvement. Just put some footwear on.