Senior ‘Stache’: A long-standing tradition for final-year Cadets

Norwich Cadet traditions

Seniors Ian Lynch and Richard Armstrong show off their senior ‘staches.’

The senior mustache is a long tradition at Norwich, even though only a select group of cadets decide to participate in it. But according to one mustache-growing cadet, it can be a fun way for seniors to usher in their last year. Ian Lynch, 22, a senior geology major from Pittsburg Pa., said, “I think everyone should try to grow a mustache for at least one month, preferably in November.”Moustaches were not always allowed at Norwich University in the Corps. According to the Norwich Rules and Regulations of 1970, “All cadets will be cleanly shaven each day. The wearing of beards and mustaches is prohibited.” This was the regulation for all years prior in terms of facial hair.

However, the next year the rules were changed – longer hair and beards were the rage at the time and the military adapted – and that marked the beginning of the tradition.

According to the 1971 Rules and Regulations, “All cadets will be cleanly shaven each day. The wearing of beards is prohibited. Seniors may wear mustaches in accordance with current policy.”

This means that the privilege has been in existence for the past 42 years.

The War Whoop’s, the Norwich yearbooks, show that there were very few seniors in 1971 who took advantage of the privilege, perhaps not even more than one.

It was in 1972 that seniors started to wear the “stache” in large numbers.

Lynch, who is carrying on the tradition today, plans on keeping his mustache “until after graduation at least, maybe forever.

“We’ll see,” he said. The mustache for him started when “I just stopped shaving after finals last year, so I’ve had my mustache since last May along with the full beard that grew with it over the summer,” he added.

In order to keep within the regulations, “I trim the edges maybe once or twice a month, but other than that I like to comb it and wax it and keep it in line,” Lynch said.

As far as comments and compliments go, Lynch said that “when I first came back to school I got a lot of compliments; people said it looked good, especially in relation to some people who were attempting to grow mustaches.

Since then everyone’s gotten used to it and I don’t really get comments anymore.”

Jason Kaplan, 21, a senior studies of war and peace major from Brewster, N.Y., is another student whose summer facial hair turned into a mustache for his time at school.

“I had a goatee over the summer. When I got back to school I didn’t want to shave the whole thing off, so I shaved the goatee and then I had a mustache,” he said.

“I got compliments in the beginning of the year, but now people just ask me why I still have it,” Kaplan said.

Despite these comments, he plans on keeping the mustache. “For a while or until I get bored of it, at least until after winter break,” he added.

Kaplan added that he keeps his mustache in check by “just shaving the corners every day and trimming the top whenever it gets rowdy.”

Kaplan said, “I think it’s good for seniors, (because it) gives us something to look forward to,” but also stated that, “I think that underclassmen who decide to grow a ‘stache’ before their time has come should be severely punished.”

While this hasn’t been a large issue, it does show how closely some seniors hold to the privilege.

Although he believes only seniors should have the privilege, this should not discourage other students. “The mustache doesn’t make the leader, the person makes the leader,” Kaplan said.

By this he means that anyone can be a great leader and that a mustache is not the definition of one.

Another student who has a senior mustache is Max Hill, 21, a history major from Jacksonville, Fla.

He’s had his “since the beginning of the semester, so August.” Hill said that he decided to have one because “I’m a senior, I felt like doing it because I could.”

In order to keep his mustache looking good and within regulations, “I have to make sure to brush it every morning and trim it every few days,” Hill said.

Despite these efforts, “I’m pretty sure my ma and my pa don’t like it very much. I’ve gotten compliments from having it; people say it looks nice and grow it. And some people just hate mustaches; they don’t like it that much,” he said.

Even though some people don’t like it, “I approve of the privilege, it’s one way that you can tell who the seniors are,” Hill added.

Tim Seibert, 21, a history major from Ephrata, Pa., agreed, adding that there was some novelty involved too: “Mainly the fact that I’ve always wanted to grow one. I was just doing it for the experience and just because I could, essentially.

If a privilege is given to you, you might as well exercise it.”

One difference for Seibert is that he shaved his during the semester, “I had it a month and a half, I believe,” he said.

Even though he had his for less time, “I got a lot of positive reactions, but there are the doubters and nay-sayers who try to bring you down just because they can’t grow one. It always happens, and there’s always going to be haters,” he said.

Seibert decided to shave his mustache because “the novelty wore off. It’s fun to have for a little while, just to have it, but after a while it got to be a little burdensome. And it did look a little creepy after a while; the ladies don’t really appreciate mustaches like they did back in the 1800s,” Seibert said.

Before his met the razor, Seibert said, “It was actually pretty easy (to maintain). All I had to do was shave every morning like I always do, then every week or so I would trim it back a little bit to a predetermined level and it would look a lot better after.”

As for the privilege as a whole, “I think it’s a good idea, just (to) have it for seniors. It’s something to look forward to if you have the opportunity to.” He added that “it makes you recognizable as a senior; it’s another attribute, like the belt you have or the gold stripe, it’s just another thing,” Seibert said.

Another senior who had a mustache and who shaved it during the course of the semester is Dick Armstrong, 21, a senior construction engineering management major from Stafford, Va.

“I wanted to grow a mustache because it was senior year; senior year-senior ‘‘stache.’ A privilege that not many get to have here,” he said.

Armstrong said, “Actually mine was a good mustache compared to others. Mine got compliments saying that I look pretty good. The mustache complimented (my features, according to) people who go to Norwich.

“Then the people outside of Norwich said that I look creepy and that it’s ‘not me.’ Those ideas were really taken into consideration about the existence of my mustache,” he said.

As for when he started his mustache, Armstrong said, “Beginning of Leader Week I starting growing it, after my girlfriend left and then I had it until she came back, so I had it for a solid month.”

He added that “the main reason why I grew it was because my girlfriend left and when she came up to visit she thought that I should probably get rid of it. After many sleepless nights of staring at myself in the mirror I decided to bring out the trimmer.”

Though he shaved his own, Armstrong said, “I don’t have a problem with it. If they keep it in (regulation), they keep it in (regulation). I really don’t know what the whole big deal about everyone not liking it, but it’s just a mustache; they can have it.”

A senior who requested anonymity said he had a reason for not having one: “I do not have a mustache because I cannot grow one.” He added, “Personally, I’m jealous.”

Even though he cannot grow a mustache, he said that he doesn’t believe that other class years should have the privilege and that it should be for seniors only.

As far as mustaches in general, he said, “I’m mostly indifferent about them; some can pull them off, some people can’t.”

“I think (people with mustaches) look like pirates, minus the eye patch,” he said.

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