Illustration by Maddi Masterson

Is this shoe shunning sanitary?

By Yash Bisht

Students at Lewis & Clark have been abandoning their footwear for years. Fall 2018 seems to be a great time for embracing the pleasures of walking about barefoot. One might assume that students have decided to walk around without footwear because of the unexpected clear skies or some spiritual inclinations. In fact, the barefoot culture at LC has always been a subculture at LC.  However, some shoe wearing students find the practice concerning. Arista Engineer ’19 shares these concerns.

“Do they know the health risks involved?” Engineer said. “Doesn’t it hurt them because our campus is so uneven? I’m not sure that it’s necessarily healthy.”

Sherlock Ortiz ’21 and Colin Crompton ’21 have been going barefoot recently. Ortiz started walking barefoot this semester. He hopes to carry this habit into the spring.

“For the most part, it’s because I try to swim a lot … as much as I can,” Ortiz said. “It’s really bothersome for me to put on socks after going swimming. It feels weird,”

Ortiz carries around flip- flops that he wears at the Bon for sanitary reasons. Otherwise, he finds walking without shoes convenient. He doesn’t mind the feel of the mud or the wet pavements.

Ortiz finds the experience of going barefoot liberating but his reasons are not spiritual.

“Yes, I do kind of like the feel of the ground beneath my feet but that’s not the main reason why I do it,” Ortiz said. “It’s not to feel more of a connection with nature or anything. It’s just easier and if I need to move fast I have my flip -flops with me.”

Crompton has enjoyed walking barefoot since childhood and is accustomed to it. His family has always valued individuality and allowed him to express it as a child. Crompton doesn’t carry his shoes around because he finds them too heavy. The soles of his feet have toughened up over time and he doesn’t need boots in pleasant weather.

“Normally, it’s just a summertime thing for me. I end up losing my calluses during the winter,” Crompton said.

Crompton would recommend going barefoot to other LC students.

“I like how free it feels. While wearing shoes it always takes a fair amount of effort to run around and do all of that stuff. I think because when I do wear shoes they are really heavy boots, the contrast is greater. When I remove my shoes, suddenly, I don’t have all this weight on my feet and I just want to run around,” he said.

Like Ortiz, Crompton wears shoes in public dining halls due to sanitary reasons as well and does see some disadvantages in going barefoot as well.

“I have a few injuries because of not wearing shoes. I guess that’s the downside of it,” Crompton said.

Both Ortiz and Crompton believe that the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to barefootedness. The freedom and convenience of not wearing shoes is what has made barefoot culture a quirk of life at LC.

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