This barefoot man won’t put on shoes for anyone

David Wisotsky’s feet were dirty and naked when he walked into the Student Government Association’s (SGA) weekly meeting on Oct. 4.

Sophomore Wisotsky is currently attempting to raise awareness on issues surrounding his “lifestyle choice” to be barefoot as often as possible. “I love the feeling of freedom associated with being barefoot,” he said in a speech at the meeting. “I would like to speak again about issues regarding prejudice and harassment faced by barefoot students on campus.” Wisotsky’s feet were planted firmly on the senate floor, but his voice wavered as he outlined his situation to the SGA. He has been denied service at dining halls, been kicked off buses and, on multiple occasions, had the police called after he refused to leave a building, he said. Wisotsky also said that, because of the difficulty of receiving food from the dining halls, he had to appeal and remove himself from his on-campus meal plan. A specific confrontation at the Bailey/Howe Library has brought the issue to a flash point for him. After Angus Robertson, who works at the library, asked Wisotsky to put on his shoes, the student refused and inquired about his wrongdoings. “I wanted to understand what I was doing wrong,” he said. “There’s no University-wide policy about footwear.” Robertson then called campus police, who proceeded to inform him that he was in violation of “other policies,” Wisotsky said. “They said they’re going to try to get me trespassed from the library,” he said. Wisotsky said he assumed the confrontation had fizzled out, but then he received a notice about his upcoming student conduct hearing regarding the incident. SGA senator Connor Burns is the chair of the Committee on Diversity, Equity and Environmental Ethics (CODEEE). Burns said he wants to ensure that students on campus are safe from prejudice in all forms, especially from the University. Wisotsky said he has been working with Burns on drafting a legislation in support of barefoot students’ rights on campus, but he said that there isn’t yet a solidified group of supporters. “Although we aren’t a group right now, I know of a lot of barefoot students on campus,” he said. Even though Wisotsky seems to have gathered support in the senate, many students on campus are skeptical. “I don’t have anything against it, but I think it’s weird and unsanitary,” sophomore Kate Odell said.

But Wisotsky is standing firm on the issue. “Why should I have to wear something I don’t want to wear?” he said. “It’s a matter of expression … UVM doesn’t force vegans and vegetarians to eat meat or carry a cheeseburger in their backpack all day.”