Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Birkenstocks Banned!

Illustration by Asa Mease
Illustration by Asa Mease

Due to health and safety concerns, as of April 28, 2013, Whitman College has placed a ban on Birkenstocks. Many students have raised up their fists in retaliation while other students, for many reasons, see the change as needed.

The health and safety issues with Birkenstock shoes began decades ago in the ’60s when a marked increase of foot fungus and ankle injury made its way to campus. Additionally, recent studies have proven that Birkenstocks have joined the list of newer addictions, such as computer gaming, Facebook and cell phone usage.
Similar to how Ugg boots act as house slippers in Australia, Birkenstocks act as house slippers in their home country, Germany. Indeed, by taking both of these types of house slippers out and into their working day lives, Americans have set themselves up for injury. Would you ride a bike wearing fluffy pink cat slippers? Would you run experiments in chemistry with hydrochloric acid in Spongebob slippers? Would you scale a mountain in zebra print slippers? Not if safety were a concern. Part of the issue with Birkenstocks is in how students use them improperly.

In fact, some students have begun a campaign saying that it’s the student culture of the shoe that makes them dangerous, and not the shoes themselves. They want students allowed to wear Birkenstocks and educated on the proper usage of a pair of Birkenstocks. Around campus this group can be spotted in purple shirts that say: “Birkenstocks don’t give people toe fungus and break their ankles: People who wear them improperly do.”

“Birkenstocks aren’t for climbing mountains; that’s a common misconception here at Whitman. We think that because our footwear is ‘earthy,’ that it can hold up to our active pursuits,” said one Birkenstock educator. “Another problem is that we think the shoes last forever, that the greener the brown or tan pair gets, the more ‘street cred’ we have. Frankly, keeping shoes for that long is unsanitary. While having your mom’s Birkenstocks with a hole in the heel and a broken strap may seem cool, it’s dangerous.”

Some students are celebrating the end of Birkenstocks.

“I’m tired of going out for a nice dinner and seeing girls made up with their hair, makeup, a beautiful dress and then Birkenstocks. Same with guys in suits. Maybe [Birkenstocks] are comfortable, but they are an outfit killer. If we went off what was comfortable all of the time, some of us wouldn’t ever wear clothes while the majority of students would live in yoga pants and pajamas. The line has to be drawn somewhere, and if the shoes are a health and safety hazard, nix them,” said sophomore Ciara Bartbrett.

A Facebook group has since been formed to “Save the Birks: Whitman College” and posts indicate that a protest took place on May 1. Students are instructed by the group to wear their Birkenstocks and go about their normal day, and accept disciplinary action if the college is capable of dispensing that many citations.

View Comments (2)
More to Discover

Comments (2)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • F

    FrederikAug 2, 2021 at 1:23 pm

    In the article it says that Birkenstocks act as house slippers in Germany. That is simply not true. Birkenstocks are mostly worn for walking outside, even for going on an (easy) hike, they’re less worn inside (it is customary to take off your shoes inside and while some people wear slippers then, Birkenstocks are way too solid (and expensive) to act as slippers).