Formation woes: Can donuts help?

Norwich University, formation, Corps of Cadets, 2nd battalion

Joe Hart with the mug he created as part of a plan to use Dunkin Donuts coupons to improve formation attendance.


Can donuts and bagels, a coffee mug and a system of rewards improve formation attendance at Norwich?

One Norwich University battalion commander is giving it a try, taking a new approach to a long-standing problem.

Lt. Col. Joe Hart, a 21-year-old senior civil engineer major from Langdon N.H., serves as 2nd Battalion Commander. He has recently developed a creative incentive to boost attendance at morning formations.

With the help of one of his company commanders, Hart is now organizing an ongoing fundraiser that will pay for the donuts that he hopes will improve attendance. “One of my company Commanders, Alex Dorey came up with the idea of having a Dunkin Donuts coupon fund for the battalion,” said Hart.

Dorey, a 21-year-old senior construction engineer management major from Bow N.H., first came up with the idea of raising money for 2nd battalion. He wanted to find a way to reward cadets for doing the right thing instead of sleeping through formation. Dorey added that “sleep through” is not as common now because unfortunately, “it’s a lot stricter because it is on a company policy.”

Dorey first brought the idea of offering Dunkin Donuts coupons to Hart however he did not have an idea of how to raise the money. Hart then came up with the way to raise money for the idea.

Originally, Hart was going to create and order shirts to be sold to the Norwich community and then the money would be used to purchase Dunkin coupons. Dorey and Hart later changed their minds and decided to sell coffee mugs because they thought coffee mugs and Dunkin coupons go together well.

Each mug reads, “A cup of Joe Hart is how I start my day,” said Hart. The mugs have a picture of battalion commander Hart. Hart was quick to point out how the mug itself is a pun and said that, “I am a big fan of cheesy puns.”

Both Hart and Dorey believe that some people view leaders in high command position as only giving out punishments and don’t see how they also like to have fun also. They believe the mug might help change some minds.

Hart added that, “you can’t be in a command position and not have a little bit of fun.”

Hart originally purchased 175 mugs at $4.25 apiece. Each mug is being sold for $5 so the profit of 75 cents goes towards the coupons. In total, so far he has raised over $130 dollars, which is equivalent to 26, $5 Dunkin Donuts coupons.

The coupons will be awarded to cadets who follow the standards. “It’s a pretty simple thing to do, show up every morning in the correct uniform, at the right time, doing the right thing,” said Dorey.

Hart is in charge of awarding the coupon. “I am going to take a roster with everybody in 2nd battalion, cut it up and stick it in some type of container, bring it out with me at formation and draw a name,” he said.

If cadets are not at formation when their name is called then their coupon will be forfeited. Although Hart didn’t think about it, “it serves as a double incentive.”

Hart and Dorey are hoping that the Dunkin Donut promotion will help encourage cadets to come to formation, which has been a struggle throughout the year. Dorey believes that this is “a start, it’s very difficult because it’s college and the Corps of Cadets.”

Dorey also pointed out how in the military there are consequences for not attending formations, such as loss in rank, pay or Article 15 non-judicial punishment. However, options like these are not realistic for the Corps of Cadets.

Dorey believes that this new idea may help improve formation attendance, but not completely solve it. Cadets and staff vary in opinion.

Ian Carlson, a 21-year-old senior political science major from New Bedford Mass., is a private in Foxtrot Company which falls under 2nd battalion. He thinks that formation attendance potentially may improve because of the incentive.

However, Tyler Scheppler, a 20-year-old junior criminal justice major from Lubbock, Texas.. is undecided whether or not this will work. “People just don’t like waking up early in the morning and staying out in the cold,” he said.

At the same time though, he said, “if you give them a good gift card, the turnout might be better.” Scheppler was quick to add that he takes pride in Corps and never misses required formations.

A cadet who requested anonymity called the Dunkin Donut incentive an “interesting tactic” but also went on to describe it as being “stupid.” No matter how many gift cards are handed out people won’t attend formations if they don’t want to, she said.

The command sergeant major for 2nd battalion, Lawrence Rooney, indicated mixed feelings about the idea.

“Cadets should be responsible for their attendance at all mandatory formations in monetary types of incentives and motivations are not usually recommended, but given the state of the situation, I applaud the effort and creativity of Lt. Col. Hart.” He later added that he plans on purchasing a mug.

Although it is currently unclear whether this method will be effective, it will be interesting to see what other non-traditional methods will be used to help maintain accountability and formation attendance, said Scheppler.

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