Between November and Feb­ruary, stu­dents dashing from class to class bundled up from head-to-toe will throw shocked and mys­tified stares at sophomore Daniel Vis­novsky, who strides through campus in a sweat­shirt, a hat, a scarf, and shock­ingly, shorts.
Men who wear shorts in the cold rep­resent a localized northern U.S. campus phe­nomenon that garners strange looks, com­ments, and the question, “Aren’t you cold?!” from the toasty lay people who prefer fleece-lined leg­gings or long johns under­neath jeans.
Sophomore Cecilia Bellet shook her head in dis­belief. “Why would you want to abuse your body like that?”
Visnovsky’s response to the incred­ulous, sea­sonally-con­scious masses was, “There’s no school rule that I have to defend my ‘fashion sense,’ fashion sense in quotes.”
Beyond “fashion sense,” most shorts-wearing people see their choice as more prac­tical.
Senior Aaron Shreck, who labels himself a “reformed winter-shorts-wearer,” explained that at Hillsdale, “you only have to walk a very short dis­tance from your car to school.” He said since he was in an envi­ronment where he didn’t have to go outside very much, “I found myself getting hot in buildings in the winter time, so I would wear shorts.”
Senior Erich Steger, from Wis­consin, wore pants and a sweater when he explained his shorts-wearing habit. “I’m required to wear pants for fra­ternity dress code and labs,” he said. “It’s more appro­priate to wear pants and shoes.”
Stu­dents can identify Steger by his ath­letic shorts, a T‑shirt, and flip-flops, playing ping-pong in the union when it’s snowing, and running around on the quad barefoot when it’s mild enough to play Ultimate Frisbee.
“For me, my legs and arms are fine,” he said. “My core will get cold, so I’ll wear coats and hats. Every­thing else is just extra.” He ges­tured at his dressy-casual sweater. “Sweaters are too much.”
While Visnovsky’s decision to pair a tightly wound scarf with his dark cargo shorts sur­prises most, Vis­novsky con­ceded that the winter wear “com­pen­sates” during the few walking minutes.
“I spend most of my time in the same com­puter lab, and it’s not very cold in there,” Vis­novsky said. “Other than that, I make the joke that I’m one-eighth Nor­wegian so it’s in my blood. I just don’t care.”
Being Nor­wegian may have some­thing to do with it, but Vis­novsky, who is from Grand Rapids, said that Hillsdale’s climate “an improvement.”
For Florida native sophomore David Stone, climate doesn’t have every­thing to do with it.
Before his freshman year, Stone had never seen snow or expe­ri­enced tem­per­ature below 35 degrees. “In Florida, people wear socks with flip flops,” Stone said. “That’s like our winter boot.” When most Floridians who migrate to Michigan would see 25 degrees as the snow­pa­colypse, Stone decided it was time to adapt to the cold by wearing shorts.
“I get a lot of people who say, ‘You should be bundled up right now!’” Stone said. “They don’t expect a guy from Florida to be wearing shorts. I get crazy looks.”
Stone pointed out that there are two types of shorts-wearers: guys with higher body tem­per­a­tures and guys who “push them­selves unnec­es­sarily hard.” According to him, the same guys who push them­selves too hard to get 4.0s every semester will also choose to wear shorts when everyone else has opted for one or two pairs of pants.
If some do it to push them­selves, others, according to senior Colin Wilson, probably do it for the attention. He said the assumption among pants-people is that shorts-people reject winter norms just so they can answer the question, ‘Aren’t you cold?’ with ‘no, I’m from insert-colder-region-here, I’m used to it!’
Whether it’s because they’re always indoors or because it’s in their blood, for Nor­wegian Vis­novsky, “reformed-shorts-wearer” Shreck, flip-flop loving Steger, and Floridian Stone, one thing is for certain: the bizarre looks won’t cause them to com­promise comfort.

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Jo Kroeker
Jo Kroeker is a junior from Fresno, California (no, it’s not Cali). She is the Opinions Editor of the Collegian, studies French and journalism, and writes for Hillsdale College’s marketing department. Her trademarks include oversized sweaters, experimental banana bread, and yoga. | twitter: @jobethkroeker