Spring has officially sprung. The snow has melted and the rain has washed away the last bits of salt and sand from the sidewalks.
Most students take this opportunity to stow away boots and break out the sandals, but some students trade out shoes altogether. The casual observer will notice bare feet not just outside, but also indoors in this newly warm weather.
“Why do you wear shoes?” said junior Seth Herning when asked why he chooses bare feet over shoes. “It’s more comfortable. After my feet are in shoes the whole winter, I like the feel of the ground under my feet.”
Other students agreed that comfort is the main reason for going without any shoes.
“I hate shoes. They don’t feel good,” said junior Zachary Hankel.
Some students have been going without shoes for a long time.
“I haven’t liked wearing shoes since I was little,” said freshman Emilee Berry. “Working at camp, we had to wear shoes outside. It just made me want to be barefoot more.”
For girls especially, complicated shoes or heels can be a nuisance which are easier to avoid altogether.
“I am one of those people who kicks off my shoes as soon as I get inside,” said junior Rachel Lynn. “So when it’s nice enough outside, I’d rather just not have to mess with putting them on and off.”
Some places on campus, however, require footwear. The Cafe and Hub do not allow shoeless patrons.
“I know it’s a federal requirement. I think it’s stupid though,” Herning said. “Is it any less sanitary than wearing sandals?”
Senior Keagan Hicks agreed with Herning’s questioning of the system.
“The rules don’t make sense to me,” Hicks said. “I’d like it explained how my foot is different from the bottom of a shoe. If someone steps in dog poop they can tramp that around the Cafe, but I can’t walk through barefoot?”
Others disagree, seeing things from the Cafe’s view.
“It makes sense. You want to be sanitary about it,” Hankel said.
Sometimes choosing to go without shoes can lead to minor embarrasments.
“On a prison ministry trip freshman year, we were all in the van ready to leave but we ended up having to run back inside. I had already kicked off my shoes, so I just decided to go barefoot in the rain,” Lynn said. “As I ran inside, I slipped on the tile floor and completely biffed it.”
Besides embarrassments, bare feet can get hurt.
“I’ve stepped on many things,” Hankel said.
Most barefoot students encourage others to try it out.
“Every spring, it takes a few days to get used to it again, but after that I hardly notice. I actually have a few blisters right now from this last week,” Lynn said.
But be warned—it may hurt to ditch shoes completely, at least at first.
“It takes time,” Hicks said. “You have to build up foot endurance, which sounds ridiculous, but the muscles in most people’s feet are quite weak from your shoes doing all the work for you, so there will be some soreness and some cuts and bruises before your skin and muscle adapts to the change in scenery.”
But for many students on campus, the excuse to kick off the shoes is completely worth it.