You may have seen him walking around campus, but what you noticed may not have been his clothes or even his smile; it might have been his feet. Namely, the fact he does not wear shoes.
Zared Shawver, 21, from McClure, Pa., is a senior psychology major and has been going barefoot for a year.
“I don’t like having my feet covered,” Shawver said. “I’ve never liked shoes and I finally just decided to stop wearing them completely.”
Shawver is a founding member of Alpha Chi Rho, president of the Adventure Club, active member of the Environmental Club and goes on hikes and other outdoor activities barefoot.
If anything, he said he prefers to be barefoot while being outdoors.
“Not wearing shoes has made me more confident about where I put my feet and the steps I take,” Shawver said.
He described the difference in being separated from the ground by shoes and how it is easier for him to gauge where to go and step when he does not have shoes between them.
But is he worried about health risks or hurting himself while walking and being active?
“No, with a caveat,” he said. “I understand and appreciate the risks of the things that may hurt me, for instance venomous creatures and glass are the biggest immediate threats, but I don’t let that fear hold me back, but use that trepidation to raise my awareness of potential harm.”
His decision has had some negative effects, such as being called names and met with some solid opposition, but he has looked into laws regarding his lifestyle and he believes he is in the clear.
“The whole No Shirt/No Shoes/No Service idea isn’t a law,” he said. “It was actually created during the ’60s and ’70s to keep members of the counter culture out of businesses.”
Laws passed by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) require only employees to wear footwear.
There are no state health codes that require that customers must wear shoes.
Individual businesses, however, are free to refuse service as they so choose.
And he has been refused service before, but refuses to let it hinder him. He knows that his lifestyle is different and is a change from what some people think.
“I don’t like the fact that change is viewed as ‘bad,’” Shawver said. “Naturally the way to do things doesn’t always mean it is right.”