Large rook class size increases strain on cadre

 

The most time intensive job in the Corps of Cadets is that of a cadre member, an upperclassmen cadet specifically designated to be in charge of rooks. Whether it be waking up at 5:30 in the morning or staying up well past midnight to deal with problems, the cadre title is one that is earned with tireless effort and no small amount of determination.

For most cadre at Norwich University this year, it may feel like they have bitten off a little more than they can chew, as Norwich brought in its largest class of rooks in the history of the school.

“It has definitely been a little overwhelming,” said Staff Sergeant Mike Dale, 21, a junior computer science major, from Morehead City, N.C. “Making sure all 32 of my rooks are on the same page, with all the same information, can pose quite a challenge.”

With the university bringing in the largest number of rooks, and overall largest freshman class it has ever seen, the Corps of Cadets has definitely grown a large amount, meaning that the new cadre must learn how to control a large number of rooks in each platoon.

“Compared to my freshman and sophomore year, where numbers were significantly less in each platoon, it’s definitely a bit of a culture shock, and a responsibility shift, one that all cadre weren’t necessary prepared for,” said Dale. The extra responsibility is certainly a heavy burden added on top of an already heavy college career, forcing cadre to balance school, the Corps, and their recruits’ needs all at once.

With an average of about 30 rooks in each platoon compared to the average 26 in previous years, that means two extra rooms per platoon. In some instances, the rooms just aren’t available. Because of this, the University has turned to alternative methods of housing students.

On the Corps of Cadets side, living quarters on the hill have been tight all around. Very few single rooms are handed out, and are reserved for those cadets of high rank. For the rooks, corner rooms have turned into triples, and both recruits and cadre have been forced to live in the barracks lounges in Dodge, Goodyear, Wilson, and Alumni Halls.

“I don’t mind having a triple room because I get along with my rook brothers, however, it seems like the recruits in double rooms have much less to worry about in terms of room standards and are yelled at much less,” said recruit Peyton Midgette, 18, a freshman mechanical engineering major, from Raleigh, N.C. “But it would be nice to have a little more space in the room and make this a double.”

The overpopulation on campus is not limited to the Corps of Cadets. The largest civilian class in Norwich history arrived this fall as well. In the civilian dormitories, some students have been offered the chance of living in what was just last year a study room open to the general public who lived on the floor, but have now been converted into quads, holding four students.

“I really wasn’t expecting to have three other roommates, when I toured the school last spring, the only rooms they showed us were double rooms. While this year has turned out fine, I’d really like to snag one of those doubles for next year,” said Todd Jackson, 20, a freshman business major, from Holly Springs, N.C.

In addition to the barracks, changes have had to be made in several other aspects of Norwich Cadet life in order to accommodate the increased student numbers. One of the major problems has been the updated timelines for when rooks go and eat dinner in the dining hall.

Prior to this year, an entire rook battalion, made up of three cadet training companies, would eat dinner at the same time. With a class the size of the one brought in this year, that would be almost 300 rooks trying to get dinner at the same time. This fall, the dinner rotation has changed from two to three time periods, with each period accommodating two cadet training companies.

“I remember standing in line for sometimes upwards of 20 minutes to get dinner my freshman year. To try and do the same process with a much larger rook class would just be madness,” said Sergeant First Class Jacob Cardinal, 21, a business management major from Worcester, Mass., and current cadre member.

The problem is still not solved however, as the entire rook battalion still eats at the same time on weekends. “Just last weekend, there were lines wrapped around the chow hall. Five of my recruits were not able to get food during the 45 minute chow rotation, and I had to send them to The Mill, breaking rules, just to make sure they got some dinner,” said Dale.

By making some minor changes, like changing the dining hall times, and increasing the number of students in a room, the University is adapting to a larger student population. The added pressure on the rook training environment, both for cadre and for rooks, is a noticeable presence on the hill, and, if a larger class is set to come in again next year, the Corps of Cadets could face tough pressures as it tries to manage the new rooks.

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