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Letter to the Editor: Barefoot living is neither sane nor sanitary

In response to “Barefoot culture rises on campus” from the Nov. 18 issue of The Maroon

By JOHN BICKLE
On April 26, 2012

Dear editor:

Being from San Francisco, I'm no stranger to modern hippie culture. From dreadlock hair to facial piercings, uncleanliness in the name of non- conformity is nothing I haven't seen before. Yet, when I first ran across Loyola students going barefoot around campus in the fall semester of 2010, I couldn't help but be surprised. I couldn't comprehend why students at a private university would walk around like people in a third world country. Not even students from those countries run around without any shoes upon coming to the United States.

My opinion hasn't changed since then. I can understand walking around sans-shoes to promote a worthy cause, such as Tom's Shoes' One Day Without Shoes, meant to "spread awareness of the impact a pair of shoes can have on a child's life by taking off our own."

However, most barefoot aficionados do so for very curious reasons if for a reason at all. California Polytechnic State student Kara cites "sticking it to the man" as her primary reason for going shoeless. In an online comment to an article proposing a shoes required policy on Cal Poly's campus she writes, "Walking around barefoot is a harmless form of liberation meant to free students from the overbearing voice of 'the man' and what society would define as social 'norms.'" This is a humorous explanation at best. I highly doubt "the man" cares at all whether wanna-be hippies are wearing shoes or not. And despite what many say, people going barefoot on campus does affect the people around them. First of all, the sight and stench of many barefooters is repulsive to those forced to be around them. Second, it lowers the reputation of the university. Visitors expect to see students in pursuit of professionalism, not walking around like toddlers. Last, barefooters don't limit their foot contact to just the ground. Many place their dirt-ridden feet on public benches and tables around campus that other students have to use as well. I can understand those who want to be "one with nature" by wearing bare feet in the wilderness. However, going barefoot in areas dominated by concrete, construction and indoor tile flooring makes no sense at all.

While barefoot running has proven benefits for runners with frequent foot problems, walking around barefoot brings health concerns not only for those who go shoeless, but also for everyone around them. Mohammed Diakite, marketing junior stated: "I think people going around barefoot on a campus is unhygienic and can lead to infections." The whole purpose of shoes is to protect the feet from bacteria and dangerous objects that can be found on the floor.

Jeffrey Ramon, religious studies senior, proclaimed: "Solidarity is best shown through direct action. . . It'd be much more rewarding to donate a pair of shoes to someone who is in need." With a great diversity of styles and sizes, it is perfectly easy to find a shoe that is comfortable and fits just right. There is no good reason to go barefoot on campus.

Sincerely, John Bickle, mass communication senior


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