Corps of Cadets strive for better accountability at formations

Cadets assemble for formation

Cadets assemble for formation

 

For more than 194 years, every Norwich University Corps of Cadets (NUCC) member has been expected to be present at mandatory formations. In recent years the NUCC has moved in a direction to having a mandatory formation every morning.

But leadership within the Corps has been struggling to maintain accountability at the morning formation, according to many Norwich cadet leaders.

Although the format that morning formations are conducted in has changed over the years, the general concept remains the same. The “three primary purposes [are]; one, accountability; two, put out information; three, inspect,” said Assistant Commandant Lt. Col. William Passalacqua.

Many cadets who requested anonymity admitted to missing multiple formations. Others like Mike Jones, a criminal justice major from Mass., confessed openly to only attending 12.

Upon hearing this, many cadets were disappointed, including senior criminal justice major, Wesley Wilson-Booth, who serves as the Foxtrot Company Commander. He said, “It’s pretty despicable, especially as how it’s one of the very few things cadets actually have to do to uphold the standards.”

This raises the questions of what disciplinary action needs to be taken when a cadet misses their first formation. According to the Norwich University Student Rules and Regulations: “A cadet who fails to gain approval from his or her 1SG or Company Commander prior to absenting himself or herself from a formation is Absent Mandatory Formation (AMF).” This then results in a verbal or written counseling.

Cadets who miss multiple formations should receive a Disciplinary Action Form (DAF), which leads to hours of marching and working tours.

The most drastic measure for multiple DAFs is a Class I offense, which stipulates not performing to expected standards.

According to Passalacqua, this is the “most formal disciplinary action. It can be imposed on a cadet by a commander, battalion, regimental assistant commandant, and a commandant.”

A junior criminal justice major who requested anonymity admitted to missing three morning formations this year. “One because I was sick, one because I didn’t feel like going, and the other one because I came home from a trip a little late.”

He later said, “I actually have not been punished; I worked out a deal with my first sergeant.” He did not explain what his deal with his first sergeant consisted of.

However, not receiving punishment is not the case for all cadets, as senior athletic training major, Jerome Petrocelli, confessed to missing 10 formations this year. Receiving one tour was enough to convince him to attend formations for the remainder of his senior year.

Junior history major Giselle Lopez took on the challenge this year as a staff sergeant for 13-3-1. She has not missed a formation this year, even though she has had to “stay up [late] a couple nights and had to pop a couple caffeine pills and some Mountain Dew to stay awake in class.”

Time management is huge when trying to balance out being contracted, cadre and a steady load of homework.

Time management has been a struggle for a sophomore architecture major who requested anonymity and said that she’s missed 10 to 15 formations this year. A majority of formations that she missed were because she was still doing homework.

Regardless of the reasoning behind missing morning formations it is clear that it is occurring.

Many cadets said that their squad leader often did not assure proper accountability and would turn a blind eye when they missed formations.

Command Sgt. Maj. Rooney, a senior enlisted adviser for the Corps of Cadets, said that this is “horrible. That means that cadet leaders are not doing their jobs. It starts at the bottom and goes up the chain of command.”

Before this school year started, Cadet Col. Ryan Sutherland already developed goals for this year’s Corps. “One of my initiatives for this year is to hold people accountable for their actions and that includes leadership. One thing that I have always taught [to] leaders of any kind, examples being commanders, squad leaders, or fire team leaders, is to work to live that their conduct and everything they do should be done in a way that no one can ever question their character or judgment.”

So far this year, Sutherland is leading by example, as he has not missed one formation.

Sutherland later acknowledged that “it’s not a perfect system” but he is working to improve both organization and accountability.

Communications major Mitch Przybocki, a senior, developed his own system of accountability last year while working as a platoon sergeant for Foxtrot. “We wouldn’t write people up the first time, we would give them a warning.”

When missing formations continued we would then fill out a DAF, he said. However, if they had a legitimate excuse for missing formations then nothing would come of it.

Throughout the year, accountability for Foxtrot improved, partly due to this method, he said.

Przybocki was quick to point out how the standards at Norwich are higher than most other colleges. “We aren’t some regular college with bros chilling in a dorm room drinking PBR every night. We are the Military College of Vermont with the oldest Cadet Corps in the nation, so we need to better ourselves by holding ourselves, our friends, and our peers to different standards then other college kids.”

Przybocki later added, “Peer leadership is the hardest challenge this school has to offer.”

Several cadets were quick to question what is often referred to as Double Salute Monday. Mike Jones and many other cadets were unaware of the purpose and significance that it holds.

“There are more than 48 hours where company commanders, squad leaders, etc. don’t see their Joes. You have to make sure nothing happened to them. That no one got drunk and wound up in a ditch or no one got in a car accident or anything like that over the weekend,” said Przybocki of the Monday formation.

Upon hearing this, many cadets said they felt this justified its purpose and were happy that this formation had been implemented.

However, that does not mean cadets attend this required formation. Lopez explained how this actually has a negative effect on her recruits.

When recruits hear that 40 upperclassman cadets are AWAL (Absent Without Authorized Leave) followed by laughter it defeats many purposes of rookdom. They think that when they are cadets that this type of behavior will be acceptable.

Recruit Justin Banks from 13-1-2 said, “following formation, I see a lot of upperclassmen straight in front of me, right across the UP (upper parade ground); I see a lot of them hustling last minute. Other than that, of course a lot of them do not show up.”

Lopez believes that being cadre holds her to a higher level of standards because she is “always under the microscope, not just by my chain of command but by my rooks. They are always watching, seeing if I’ll mess up the way I tell them not to.”

Even though it has been discouraging at times for Lopez, she has noticed an improvement. “Last year I worked with rooks too and I was part of the battalion staff. I noticed a huge difference between this year and last year and how they are really holding accountability, even for uniform inspections.”

The Commandant of the Corps of Cadets, Col. Russell Holden, agreed with Lopez, saying, “I think it’s been better than previous years; it’s always a challenge to get the cadet leaders to do their jobs.” He later stressed that it’s an ongoing learning process.

One of the anonymous cadets agreed, saying that he has seen drastic improvement with the accountability of Foxtrot this year, compared to last year.

Col. Holden and Lt. Col. Passalacqua acknowledged that accountability for formations has always been a challenge for cadet leaders; however, they said they never missed a formation during their time attending Norwich.

Both Rooney, a retired detective, and Passalacqua were quick to point out that accountability will follow you for the rest of your life, not just at Norwich. “No matter who you work for, if you don’t show up for work, it’s going to be an issue,” Rooney said.

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