Was Recognition earned, or simply given?

Editors note: This commentary was written by a member of the Corps of Cadets. Because of concerns about potential backlash and repercussions, the writer requested anonymity. The Guidon felt the opinions expressed were worth publicizing despite being anonymous and do reflect a segment of the Corps of Cadets.

Despite failing various tasks to become a cadet here at Norwich University, freshmen are still being passed on and recognized as cadets upon the completion of Rookdom. 

As a senior cadet at this private military institution, I have become accustomed to the traditions once held so highly in esteem here, and have held myself to the standard expected of me by the cadre I had my freshmen year. 

The oath taken upon arrival at this institution lays out the guidelines and standards that are expected to met and upheld from the time one enters the Corps. 

So, in saying that, students that choose the Corps of Cadets check a box saying that they understand what standards they are to meet to become a recognized cadet. 

Yet unfortunately, this does not happen. 

Every year, despite being told that they have to pass all training, go to all classes, and attend all morning formations, there are cadets who do not complete all of the established requirements but still earn the title and join the corps. 

Not all of the students that come here and check the box are failing the requirements to become a cadet, however. This makes it unfair to those who uphold the standard, while the rest are just passed on. 

To be inducted into the Corps of Cadets, students take an oath to follow the guiding values which consist of statements like “we stress being physically fit and drug free,” and “we stress self-discipline, personal responsibility, and respect for law,” according to the Norwich University cadet handbook. 

These are just two of eight guiding values expected of cadets, but still there are freshmen being recognized with failing physical fitness scores, knowledge test scores, and unacceptable room and uniform standards. If the leadership within the Corps of Cadets held all of the incoming cadets to these standards, then a large percentage of them would be given the title of Failure to Adapt.

The cadet leadership is just as much at fault for this system of failure being rewarded due to their inability to uphold and enforce the standard. 

The recurring pattern of freshmen being recognized despite their failures over the last few years has affected the ability of cadet leadership to maintain the mental fortitude that is required of them. In the cadet handbook it states, under the Cadet Leaders’ Oath, that “I will insist that each Cadet meets and maintains the standards of military bearing and courtesy, consistent with the highest traditions of Norwich University and our Guiding Values.” 

Despite saying this at the beginning of the year on Rook Arrival day, five cadet leaders have failed to pass their PT tests in one battalion. In that same battalion, forty-five freshmen also failed to pass their PT tests and were still recognized as cadets. 

In addition to being required to pass a PT test, the freshmen had to pass a knowledge test that their senior leadership took prior to the start of Rookdom. The knowledge test was administered during the Rook Performance Challenge approximately half way through Rookdom. Five freshmen did not pass that test and still went on to recognition.

This shows that failing to meet the standards, standards set forth on their first day at Norwich University, ultimately means nothing in regards to whether or not recruits will be recognized. Recognition is a set date every year and every year. Whatever freshmen are still here and participating in the Corps of Cadets will get recognized. 

This is inappropriate. It is both ethically and morally wrong to put people through the same challenges and hardships under the expectation of a single standard, only to reward them the same for different levels of performance. Ultimately, recruits realize it was all for nothing. 

Throughout Rookdom, these freshmen are cheated by being told that they are “one of the few” by choosing to go through the challenge of a military school. But in reality, all that is being shown to them is that effort and success have no bearing upon achievement. 

For the freshmen that are putting out and successfully completing all tasks required to become a cadet, they see that those who are in charge are greatly at fault for not upholding the standard themselves – that upperclassmen are failing to adhere to the Cadet Leader Oath by either not meeting the standards for themselves and/or letting those freshmen failures fly under the radar.

I propose that in order to correct this ethical dilemma within the Corps of Cadets, freshmen that do not pass all the standards expected of them should get “recycled.” 

By this, I mean that by the time recognition comes around, if certain freshmen have not met all requirements, they should remain as recruits with all restrictions inherent to a recruit lifestyle until they do pass. 

As for recruit leadership, I propose that we reference the Norwich University Standing Operating Procedure where it states that “The cadet selection and promotion process should strive to identify cadets who are capable and willing to lead their peers and personify our guiding values.” From here on out, all students in the Corps of Cadets, freshmen and above, should abide by the oath that they take in the beginning of the year and strive to complete all requirements asked of them – particularly those leaders charged with the task of turning new recruits into cadets.



  1. Bill Beller says:

    I thought that all Cadets whom get recognized are the very ones who have completed all of the requirements during Rookdon? Is this a fallacy or should our rooks be looked at differently! At the end of the day we parent gave you our sons and daughters to get them to the recognition ceremony with the knowledge and physically need to pass the basic test! Don’t pass them if that’s not happening keep the standard it’s not a pollriaty contest! We need warriors in the military as well as in civilian life!

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