WSU Vancouver’s “shoeless guy” speaks

Washington State University Vancouver is a campus where the students are diverse. There are students of different races, those who identify as being part of the LGBTQIAA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersexual, Asexual, Ally), there are students who are older than others and then there are a few students who chose to walk around campus without wearing shoes. Ryan Griffith, a native of Ridgefield, Washington, is probably most well known for doing the latter.

According to Griffith, he started going barefoot during the semester of fall 2013- because he noticed that the members of the Dirty Foot Hippie Club had been walking around campus barefoot for a couple of days. Along with feeling inspired by the Dirty Foot Hippie Club, he also said that he goes barefoot because he can easily do it and it makes him feel comfortable.        “It’s very much a comfortability thing for me on one level, running around and everything. So I started it because it was doable.” Griffith also told The VanCougar that going shoeless was something he simply enjoy doing. Though there are other reasons does not always wear footwear.

Ryan Griffith is a sociology major with a minor in Spanish. Before attending WSU Vancouver, he was a running start student at Clark College and graduated from there in 2011. While attending Clark College as a running start student, Griffith was also a student at Ridgefield High School and graduated from there in 2010. Originally, he wanted to attend Portland State University but ended up at WSU Vancouver due to financial issues involving out-of-state tuition.

Griffith said that he chooses to go barefoot anywhere he can since he feels more comfortable doing so. In fact, he feels so comfortable going barefoot that even on the coldest days, such as when Vancouver received a large amount of snow in February, Griffith was barely bothered by the burning sensation the salt and ice mixture caused his feet. When he goes out with friends to restaurants or public establishments that require the general public to wear shoes, he does so. In the summer semester, Griffith will go to Cuba, where he plans on being barefoot.

However, Griffith said that he doesn’t go barefoot every time he goes out in public. He uses footwear when he knows he will be walking on gravel for an extended period of time. Also, he wears shoes when public establishments will not let him in or when footwear is needed for his job. Griffith frequently brings a pair of shoes or sandals with him just in case.

One last reason that Griffith has for not wearing shoes is the world’s disparity. When he does not wear shoes, he said that he remembers that other people around the world do not have access to basic necessities, including shoes. “It’s a reminder to myself that there’s a lot of disparity in the world, so to speak, and that there’s this point of where ‘Yes, not a lot of people wear shoes’” He also said that he feels more “disconnected” when he is wearing shoes and socks.

Aside from working three different jobs throughout his time at WSU Vancouver, Griffith is also involved in different clubs and organizations on campus. He is part of the Garden Club, the Spanish Club, and he is the public relations for the Environmental Science and Sustainability Club. Currently, Griffith is working with a fellow student, Sierra Hancock, to create an organization called Registered Student Organizations Council. According to Griffith, the RSO council is essentially a “club for clubs” which acts like a “United Nations” for all clubs on campus. The organization is meant to help all clubs on campus become more inclusive.

Ryan Griffith is a student at WSU Vancouver who is probably well-known for going barefoot. Although he has developed a reputation as being somewhat of a hippie, he has worked several jobs on campus, and is involved in different clubs and organizations. For questions about Ryan Griffith and the clubs he is involved in, students may contact him at ryan.griffith@email.wsu.edu.

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One Comment

  1. Lilia Monje says:

    I always wondered about Ryans motives for going barefoot, I meant to ask him but I just didn’t find it appropiate. I kind of knew he had to have a more good cause to choose in doing so.