Commandant’s leave policy memo on junior ring weekend creates cadet confusion, frustration

Confusion and frustration have resulted from a March 19 memo by Commandant of Cadets Col. Michael Titus regarding the policy for leave over Junior Ring Weekend and its conflicting date with Easter weekend.

While the release of the memo highlighted a policy that has been in practice for years, a number of cadets have been forced to change their plans for one of the highlight weekends marking a milestone in their progress in the Corps of Cadets.

Junior Ring Weekend is a much anticipated event that cadets, and civilians, look forward to reaching at Norwich. Upon fulfilling the requirements to receive their rings, they are rewarded with a weekend of leave and a chance to celebrate with friends and alumni.

The ceremony where students receive their rings is school-sanctioned at two separate events, for civilian students and cadets. How students choose to conduct post-event celebrations aftewards is their own choice, but it has long been tradition for many students to rent a condomium somewhere to drink safely and legally off campus, spending time with friends and alumni who join in the ceremonies.

Col. Titus’ policy states that “…resort condominiums which are typically booked by Norwich students celebrating receipt of their junior rings are OFF LIMITS to freshman and sophomore cadets.”

Col. Titus also stated that “the primary reason for the policy is because this year, unlike previous years, Junior Ring Weekend coincided with Easter weekend.”

“Since the two coincide this year we had to find a way to reconcile these two vastly different leave policies. This policy memo is that solution,” Col. Titus wrote.

It is important to note that this memo solely applies to cadets. With Easter weekend being a time of general leave for cadets, a time where they are free to leave the campus without submitting paper work and time off from their corps duties, some have pointed out that this policy may be difficult to enforce.

“I don’t really think the ultimate goal will be met since everyone has the ability to go where they want,” said Jane Carr, a 22-year-old senior accounting major from Kennebunk, Main. “You can’t control that at all. Any other weekend it would be possible, but Easter weekend, not so much.”

Quintin Thornbury, 21, a history major from San Antonio, Texas weighed in on the timing of the ceremony.

“In the past when junior ring weekend wasn’t put on a general leave weekend, freshmen and sophomores were required to do check-ins at midnight to ensure they weren’t going to condos and engaging in underage drinking and fraternization with upperclassmen,” he said. “However, because the ceremony is placed on [Easter weekend] the staff was presented with the problem of how it was going to curb underage drinking and fraternization.”

Some cadets were not familiar with the policy and claimed that they have not seen it in their time here.

“I find it to be a very unusual policy,” said Aiden Cruz, a 20-year-old sophomore computer security and information assurance major from San Antonio, Texas . “It’s one I didn’t expect to come out, nor have I seen in the past few years,” he said.

The policy has caused some strife particularly with units or groups of students that have a very small upperclassmen make up, and a very large underclassmen make up. This can lead to those units relying on sophomores attending their condos to lower the price of renting one for the weekend.

“Now that sophomores cannot go anymore, we are going to raise prices,” said Joshua Lewis, a 21-year- old studies in war and peace major from Ft. Irwin, Calif., “and we have people flying from D.C. and even Hawaii. It would be bad if we made them pay even more.”

Thornbury pointed out that the units with the large sophomore contingent are the ones who have closer relations with sophomores, and that some of the pushback towards the memo is based on the class years of cadets.

“I think it depends on what class year they are, it depends on whether or not they’re junior or sophomores,” he said “or if they’re apart of a special unit or sports team.”

Cory Harunkiewicz, 21, a senior majoring in business management, said the specialty units are feeling the impact the most.

“Those are the people in the corps that are going to have the relations with the sophomores, or something that crosses that line in the middle,” he said. “They were just reminded that that line is there and has always been there.”

Thornbury said that their concern is understandable, since “they see them as teammates, they share the right of passage through specialty units.”

Some cadets have also raised concerns about the timing of the memo.

“Timing of this really was bad, since it was released one month before Junior Ring,” said Carr. “If it was put in in the beginning of the school year, it would have been better planning-wise, and not as many people would have kept a grudge about it.”

Thornbury stated that he thinks that people would have been even more upset if it were released any later, but that the timing still allows for students to be refunded and figure out alternate ways to participate in the weekend.

He also said he thinks that the timing of this still allows different designated driver plans to be figured out.

In the past, cadets relied on sophomores to aid in driving people who have been drinking to prevent incidences of drunk driving. But Thornbury pointed out a conversation he had with Col. Titus regarding this practice.

“He said that in the military, it’s not the responsibility of the subordinate to take care of their leadership that way. You’re not going to use and take advantage of your position of these underclassmen, it should be the responsibility of the seniors,” he said. “We should be the ones taking care of our subordinates.”

He went on further to point out that in the military, Corporals are not expected to “chauffeur” their captains around.

However, Harunkiewicz noted that sophomores are able to drive upperclassmen around – just not able to engage in the festivities. He also pointed out that safety is the number one factor, and that he would not mind if anyone from his own units contacted him that weekend out of safety.

He also noted that the policy offered an easier way for sophomores to make the decision to participate at condo events over the weekend.

“I see the biggest benefit as it being those people who would’ve been presented with this ethical dilemma prior to this memo being put out in writing, they still would have had the rule to lay on,” He said. “It’s easier for them to use the rule as reasoning for not allowing sophomores to go.”

By giving sophomores a commandant’s memo to rely on, Harunkiewicz said that they will be able stand up to the peer pressure to attend the condo events.

“It takes the peer pressure off the individual, I believe,” he said. “So it’s going to be easier for people to do the right thing in the face of their peers.”

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