In a sweeping declaration following spring break, the St. Lawrence University campus announced a ban on a popular campus good: Bean Boots. Campus administration said that Bean Boots have created a predicament that many other schools have faced in the past years, though none as severe as SLU. This issue stems from the fact that nearly every student owns a pair of Bean Boots, or a similar style. This has caused immense problems because it makes students nearly identical, and it is impossible to tell them apart during the snowy and muddy seasons on campus.
“The first issue arose when I was out by the Student Center one day checking on things,” said Patrick Gagnon, Assistant Vice President of Safety & Security and Emergency Management. “I was just standing there checking on the amount of ice that had accumulated on the sidewalk when I noticed that there were approximately 100 of the same feet walking all around me. Then I walked a little further and noticed that literally every person I walked by was wearing Bean Boots, therefore making them unidentifiable from each other.”
Gagnon described the panic he felt when he realized that he would no longer be able to tell students apart during the dark and cold winter months. It was concerning to him, as there are times when a certain student needs to be picked out of a crowd for various reasons. Because everyone wears Bean Boots, this is not possible.
Many other campuses have had this same issue. In 2014, Colgate University in Hamilton, NY reported that they were only letting certain students wear Bean Boots on certain days. Those with last names in the first half of the alphabet could wear the boots on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, while those with last names in the second half of the alphabet could wear them on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Colgate’s administration reported that on Sundays, typically a quieter day on campus, anyone who wants can wear Bean Boots. This is a less extreme option than the ban that SLU has announced. Gagnon explains that this is because there are far more students per square foot that wear Bean Boots at SLU than on any other campus.
The administration said that they are aware that this news could come as a shock to many across campus. “We know that our students love their Bean Boots,” Gagnon said, “but we need to crack down on this to ensure that we are able to tell our students apart in times of emergency.” Nonetheless, this ban will be met with hesitation from students and faculty alike.
“My Bean Boots are part of who I am,” said Tory Cabot ’17. “I have worn them during snowy days every year since high school. I cannot imagine that administration is going to ban me from wearing them.” Cabot said that she is confused as to how the administration is going to enforce this ban. She is unsure yet if she is going to ignore the ban and continue to wear her boots, but she did say that if her feet are cold, the ban is not going to keep her from staying warm.
The full details of the ban, as well as information on how it will be enforced, are forthcoming.
The administration did say that they are going to stick to their statement and that the ban is official. They said they cannot risk any instances of not being able to know who is who when walking around campus. “Bean Boots are fun and fashionable, but we do not want to wait around and see if their effects become dangerous,” Gagnon said.