On John Brown University’s campus, many students have adopted the habit of not wearing shoes in class, around campus or inside other buildings. Though the origin of this practice on campus remains unknown, there are a range of reactions to it from various students.
Last year the trend rose in popularity to the point that a few students neglected to wear shoes in the cafeteria. The students were quickly asked to wear shoes in areas where people would be eating, such as the cafeteria and the California Cafe.
Senior Madi Susmilch has attended JBU the entirety of her college career. She said that, before she came to school here, everyone wore shoes in public. For Susmilch, it’s first and foremost an issue of respect.
“When people put their feet on the desk chairs or prop them up on tables that are used by a lot of people on campus, after not wearing shoes all day around campus, that’s gross,” Susmilch said.
Susmilch said that last year while she and her friend were sitting in chapel, a student sitting behind them propped her bare feet on the pew, nearly touching her friend’s shoulder.
“My friend was so grossed out and had to ask the girl to take her feet down,” Susmilch said. “That’s when it’s an even bigger issue; when you begin invading the personal space of those around you and making them uncomfortable.”
Though some students on campus choose to remain shoe-wearers, they aren’t necessarily bothered by those who choose not to. Senior Courtney Marshall summed up that viewpoint with one sentence: “To each their own,” Marshall said.
Marshall believes that, as long as they aren’t harming others directly, the bare-footed students should be able to do as they please.
“Just be mindful of others around you,” Marshall said.
The section titled “General Expectations” in the campus policies handbook addresses the issue of wearing shoes on campus:
“Clothing standards for classes, meals in the cafeteria and campus events will vary with the activity. As a minimum, however, shoes, shirts and other clothing required by modesty should be worn in all public buildings.”
The University states that students are required to wear shoes in class, chapel and other buildings on campus with the exception of the dorm rooms and outdoors. Since this rule seems to be loosely enforced, many students at JBU will likely continue to enjoy letting their feet be free for years to come.