Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sorry for the absence

I have had a rough few months and been suffering from a depression I am slowly pulling out of.

That said, I have a few things I would like to share

First, two nights ago I went to the gym with my roommate and a friend of his to the gym. I am exercising so why the hell would I even consider wearing shoes?

I checked in, read the signs on the door and desk that had a very detailed list of requirements. Not among them was a requirement for shoes. No posted sign? No JWU policy? No law? No Problem!

A few minutes into my workout one of the students working the desk came over and asked me where my shoes were. I told him I don't wear shoes and he told me that I need shoes. I told him I know that is not posted on the door or in the dress code, I looked. I also told him JWU policy is silent on the issue. He then looked puzzled, but respectful, and left. I continued with my workout, treadmills, leg workouts, arm "stuff" I am not a huge gym guy so I really don't know much about the machines.  Ran a few miles on the treadmill at speed 8. Less than what I did back in high school when I ran every day but whatever.

I left with my friends, and thanked them with a really happy feeling that this was a simple in and out issue.

I forgot my ID in my hometown so I couldn't take the JWU bus. Instead I ran to class which felt glorious. I was in math class doing the work and the teacher was making his rounds to check our progress with the problems. As he passed me I told him I need to wear shoes next time. I replied with a simple "Why?" He told me it was a health hazard and I told him that was not true at all. I told him I had been doing it for two years here and I have had no problems (not entirely accurate but it sounds better). He said that I could have something on my feet and rub it on the rug. I told him most people wear shoes so it doesn't matter. He walked away and I thought I heard him mutter "You will have to too."

So I wrote up the following email. I haven't sent it yet but plan to today or tomorrow morning.
"I am sorry you take issue with my lack of footwear, but I must inform you the university does not share your concern. The JWU handbook mentions no requirement for students to wear shoes in class, it was the first thing I checked my freshman year. You may also be interested to know that no state in the union has laws or regulations requiring citizens to wear shoes, partially because they don't care enough to set a rule like that, but mostly because it is unconstitutional.
I am sure you know that JWU also has a nondiscrimination policy. Something that trying to enforce a non existent rule would violate. You called it a "health hazard." in actuality, statistical data suggests that you are more likely to suffer an injury when wearing shoes. Which sounds like the hazard? I do not wear shoes because doing so has permanently fixed my chronic back pain and boosted my immune system to the point I have not been sick in two years. I have been exercising my right to clothe myself as I please for two years at JWU and no teacher thus far has shown anything but hospitality and a cautious interest.
Since there are no laws, school policies, or valid reasons to wear shoes , I will not. It is regrettable you would prefer me to wear shoes, but police officers do not get to make laws, they only enforce them. So long story short, it is my right to not wear shoes if I wish. My rights will not be infringed upon. I am paying my own money out of pocket to be here and learn. I deserve the same treatment as any other student.
I hope this has cleared up any confusion and I look forward to learning whatever material you teach us in class.

Fairly civil and appropriate I think. Thoughts?

Now I checked my email this morning to find this:

 My name is Carlo Acquisto and I am the Fitness Director here at the HFC.   I received a written notice that you where in the fitness Center with no shoes on.   I was also informed that the Student Assistant's on duty informed you of our policy on footwear and you refused follow the policy and continued working out with no footwear. 
The rules and policies of our Fitness Centers are for your safety, as well as all other participants.   They are for cleanliness and hygiene.   They are also for liability reasons.    These rules were written by our legal department at Johnson and Wales University.    If you would like to speak about this further I will be happy to explain them to you personally.  
Carlo M. Acquisto
Johnson and Wales University
Fitness Director
Office:   401 598-1618
Fax:       401 598-1601
Needless to say this letter was infuriating to me. This was especially irritating because I had felt so good about this confrontation before only to learn the guy reported me.

So I typed this up and plan to send it after dinner:
"It is really unfortunate this is still an issue. My second year here I had really hoped that JWU had become a little more mature and less hypocritical on this issue. Sadly, that does not seem to be the case.
I was in the fitness center with no shoes on. This is because for medical reasons I DO NOT wear shoes. I have not now for two years and that will NOT change. The Student Assistant told me that I needed shoes, I informed him that the policy WAS NOT listed on the door. There were several printouts on the door and desks. They mentioned in detail your dress code. It also mentioned what shoes we were not allowed to wear. It did not contain any policy stating I needed to wear shoes. Once I informed him of this I also let him know that I have read the student handbook and the only people required to wear shoes that I saw were hospitality and culinary employees as part of their uniform. I am a technology student. Once I informed him of this he politely left me to my exercise with my roommate. I had really hoped that this was a very simple non confrontational conversation. It seems I was wrong. I did not refuse to leave, I told him why I was not obligated to leave due to the policies published. If a policy is not publicly displayed for all to see, it carries NO legal weight and is thus unenforcible. If he then told me to leave again, and I stood up for my RIGHTS and refused, that would constitute refusal to leave.
This next thing you cite, "The rules of our fitness center are for your safety." I will not sugarcoat this. This is absolutely INSULTING. HOW DARE YOU think that you even begin to be qualified to tell me my lifestyle is not safe? I walk around the city all day, attend class, run in the woods, and even explore abandoned buildings strewn with broken glass and other so called "hazards" completely and unapologetically barefoot. I think I am a hell of a lot more qualified than you to say your treadmills and bike machines pose absolutely zero threat and any thoughts otherwise are simply outdated and unfounded assumptions. In fact, the treadmill's rollers felt quite wonderful underfoot, like a massage. Do you know Mr. Fitness Director why many physical activities are done with very thin shoes or no shoes at all? It is because balance is greatly increased when not wearing shoes. The feet are also more flexible than shoes can ever be and the feet have over 200,000 nerve endings per foot that create BY FAR the most stable and SAFE exercise platform in existence.
Cleanliness and hygiene, yet another unfounded and weak defense to an indefensible argument. It is most common in this era to exercise in shoes (even though a few years ago that was not the case.) This means unless you have a group of students that run on their hands on the treadmills, there is no issue. This is of course irrelevant because people are expected to wipe down their machines... and of course the fact that sweat from feet is the same as sweat from anywhere else makes it a non issue. Fact of the matter is shoes are among our least hygienic clothing items. They form the ideal incubator for bacteria and fungi. Whereas bare feet provide little place for such pests to hide. It is this fact that illustrates why people do not get athletes hand or arm. The shoe seals in the foot not allowing it to function properly and it marinates in perspiration. Hows that for hygienic? Do you like marinating in up to 1pt of sweat per day? I hold myself to a higher hygienic standard than that... It is the reason that I and all people who choose to live barefoot NEVER get athletes foot or any form of fungus. The bare foot is simply too inhospitable of a place for bacteria to flourish. So now you've learned shoes are unhygienic and are the proven cause of a myriad of bacterial/fungal problems its time to go to the next lesson.
Liability. If this were not so laughable it would be just pathetic. Studies show that injury rates are dramatically lower when barefoot. This has to do with previously mentioned reasons of balance and nerve feedback. It also has to do with the biomechanically inefficient and destructive gait caused by shoes. The collision forces caused by the unnatural shod running form cause both long term and short term damage. Runners in the western world are plagued by injures that sadly have been deemed part of the sport. This is preposterous. Many western barefoot runners that were plagued by injury when they wore shoes enjoyed injury free running for years when they removed their shoes. The Tarahumara are an indigenous tribe in Mexico run for intervals over 24 hours at a time more often than not completely barefoot. They became the subject of one of the first books that brought barefoot life into the mainstream "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougal. 

Let me give you a little lesson in legality...you have less liability if I get injured barefoot (an event I have already demonstrated is hardly likely) than if you trample my rights and force me to wear shoes to use a gym I PAY to access, and I get injured. If I got injured forced to obey a foolish misguided shoe policy (which is fairly likely because I am used to running properly) I can personally guarantee my attorney and I will sue you for it. 

On a related note, why does this "legal department" have many very specific dress code requirements listed but no mention at all of a requirement for shoes? I have dealt with people like you before and more often than not, they assume there is a policy when none exists. I had a similar issue at Walmart and even when I proved corporate made no policy against it, there was no sign on the door, and no law requiring me to wear shoes, they still insisted I leave. This is a little thing the law calls DISCRIMINATION. Something JWU has a policy against. Discrimination is a very serious charge and avoiding actions that could be considered discrimination would be prudent. 
I really had hoped that JWU would stick to their nondiscrimination policy especially after last year's long dispute with campus dining. Thus far it really looked like JWU had grown up a little. I was able to stride confidently into campus dining restaurants without feeling like a freak or an outcast. It looked like foolish fictitious policies based on ignorance and prejudice were a thing of the past. 
I PAY out of my own pocket, up front to be here. I work hard every trimester and have made deans list every time to get the extra scholarship. I take my education here very seriously but I will not have my rights infringed upon. I am entitled to use the gym the same way as anyone else. Asking me to wear shoes is irrational, indefensible, unfair, and discriminatory. If I want to use the gym I will. If this remains a problem this may need to become a legal issue.
          I WILL NOT be discriminated against, and THAT is final.

Hayward H Gatch IV

Barefooter for Health

I am not sure if it is allowed...but...wait until after I send the email and get a reply, I have something to ask of you all.

But for now,

Barefooting is easy
Barefooting is good for you
Barefooting is NOT illegal
Join the revolution

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