Let’s talk about people who take off their shoes during class


At Brown, we do have one binary: to take one’s shoes off during class. There is no “sometimes I do,” and there is no, “well, I slide my feet out halfway.” No, no, no. Let’s not be silly. You might think that halfway insertion of foot into shoe doesn’t count because no one can see it, no one’s paying attention, and no one can tell. Well, everyone can see it, everyone is paying attention, everyone can tell, and, most importantly, everyone can smell it. You either are the person who takes his shoes off during class or you aren’t.

Brown is a safe space where students are encouraged to feel comfortable in all situations. I appreciate that, and I appreciate the fact that our 9a.m. seminar makes you feel at home. However, I still struggle to comprehend why you need to take your shoes off, and how you ever so casually do it and feel okay with it. You don’t see me taking my bra off in the middle of class because it would be more comfortable for the ensuing hour and twenty minutes of sedentary discussion about 16th century Russian political philosophy.

Is there a difference in severity between those who unleash a bare foot and those who wear socks? I’m not quite sure. Sometimes, the bare foot means the shoes smell horrific. The socks usually smell like shit by themselves. So I suppose it’s a lose-lose.

A quick question I’ve been longing to ask: If you do take your shoes off, why do you rub your feet against each other? I’ve never really had a compulsion to do that before.

While being one of the people who take off their shoes during class is a binary, the severity of each specific shoes-off situation does, actually, fall on a spectrum.

It is infinitely worse if you are going through the struggle to untie or unzip your shoes. That is pure dedication. If you are so dedicated, everyone just wonders why the hell you needed to take your shoes off so badly, as there must have been a good reason if you just went through all the trouble of doing it.

If you are wearing flip flops, or Birkenstocks, or clogs or ballet flats, you aren’t as bad. It’s still bleh, but it could be worse. You could be a painfully slow unzipper, thinking you’re making the least disturbance when, in actuality, everyone just wants you to get it over with.

It is hysterical to watch people re-tie their Converse at the end of a lecture, foot perched on an adjacent desk, while casually conversing with the professor. Like, am I leaving History of Capitalism, or a heated vinyasa flow class? Should we place our hands in heart center and decide where we’re going to drink campu-choochoo-choochoo tea afterwards? 

We could also talk about the people who don’t wear shoes at all, ever, any of the time. There are a few token culprits, but for some reason, it isn’t nearly as bothersome as those who selectively take their shoes off for class. If you never wear shoes, then your feet essentially are shoes, and it’s somehow less disgusting if there’s nothing to take off in the first place. This is probably another discussion, though, for another time.

Image via Jason Hu ’15.


  1. Paul

    The fact is that people like to take off their shoes because it’s more comfortable, and to let their feet breathe.

    It’s normal, and what people do, so deal with it!

  2. George Bennen

    this was a funny read, ” If you do take your shoes off, why do you rub your feet against each other? I’ve never really had a compulsion to do that before.”

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