Corps vs. Civvies: Norwich’s split personality could use a makeover

After more than two decades, a divide still exists between corps students and civilians who were first enrolled in 1994. Guidon staffer Ethan Miller thinks it’s time for both sides to respect each other. Norwich University photo

Commentary

 

Baseball has the Yankees and the Red Sox, racism has the oppressed and the oppressors, and Norwich, well Norwich has the Corps and Civilians. Sure, there are fights in all of them, but hey, at least Norwich has more middle fingers.

Unless you just got to campus, you’ve definitely seen the tension between the corps and the civvies. I was on my way to history of civilization one day, talking to a few guys, just messing around while we walked, when a corps kid walks up to us and tells us that we’re a bunch of “sissy no-brained civvies,” and then walks away. The next day I’m headed to chow with a couple of civvy chicks, when a different corps kid sees the chicks and yells “Hey ladies, you want to chase these boots?” But hey, maybe that kind of stuff only happens when I’m around.

When I first got to this college, I looked around at all of the corps members in uniforms and short hair and thought, “Huh, this seems like a serious college,” but I soon learned it’s not as serious as it looks. I started to realize what shenanigans went on around campus, whether it was the weird kid from down the hall who would run around with condoms on his face to the basic white girls getting drunk and throwing their half-filled Mikes (Hard Lemonade) out of their windows. I began to see that the school had a more party vibe than they had on the outside. [Read more…]

Time to ‘ring’ in a new tradition

There’s a civilian junior ring?

That is a question that is often heard from many students and faculty at Norwich University.

Students at Norwich are a part of one big community that bands together to make things happen. One of the key events that symbolizes this student community is the awarding of a Norwich ring, a long Corps tradition that has expanded to include having a civilian junior ring, a meaningful new tradition for the civilian side. Unfortunately, civilians still receive backlash from those in the Corps who think that civilians do not deserve them.

At almost every college there is a class ring, although rings may not have the same significance at civilian schools, where the tradition is declining nationwide. But at Norwich, getting a junior ring holds important meaning to those students in the Corps and civilians who get them. [Read more…]

Hypocrisy and leadership

This weekend at drill an officer asked me a question that turned into a mulling session over the rest of the day. He asked me why I hadn’t corrected a buddy on a uniform deficiency (wearing the fleece as an outer layer).

My response for why I hadn’t corrected him came surprisingly fast; “I wear the fleece on the outside sometimes too,” so I didn’t make beans about it.

Of course, there was some joking about that statement, but it actually spawned some thought about several conversations and experiences I have had in the past about leaders and hypocritical behavior.

I’ve had cadet officers in the past stand in front of their subordinates and explain why we had a certain standard and that it was expected of us to enforce and uphold that same standard. Then they would break that exact same standard. [Read more…]

Opinion: A corps cadre member speaks out

I am cadre in one of the rook battalions at Norwich University. For the sake of protecting myself from possible reprimand or retaliation, I will not provide my name, rank, unit, or building. For the sake of maintaining a level of professionalism, I will also not give the names of recruits, cadre, or commandants in this statement.

As a cadre member, I arrived at school two weeks prior to Rook Orientation Week and underwent various trainings under the supervision of my Corps leadership as well as the commandants in order to ensure that my peers as well as myself, were proficient and knowledgeable in conducting the tasks required of cadre during Rookdom. This training consisted of your run-of-the-mill expected instruction: drill and ceremony, PRT’s, etc. Along with this training, we were also given numerous briefings regarding Title IX, legalities, professionalism, etc. Hiccups during training were minimal and were quickly addressed and the quality of leaders present, ready to fulfill the duties of cadre were impeccable based upon my own observations and based on what was said by the commandants overseeing our training as a whole. We started off the year firmly believing that things would run smoothly, aside from the usual initial issues with Rook training, and believing that the commandants had a level of faith in us and backed us entirely. We are only a few weeks into the academic year and this has proved to not be the case whatsoever. [Read more…]

Norwich’s legacy of innovation will be showcased in April symposium

Norwich University has long been at the forefront of innovation, beginning with its visionary founder, Captain Alden Partridge. Two hundred years ago this July, Partridge’s radical views on education cost him his post as superintendent of West Point. And yet, his prescient ideas about experiential learning, educating across the disciplines, and preparing youth to “discharge, in the best possible manner, the duties they owe to themselves, to their fellow-men, and to their country,” are more relevant today than they have ever been. [Read more…]

Cuts to student aid will hurt

Going to college to create a better future should be a dream available to all, not just to the few who can afford it. Yet the Trump administration seems to be taking the opposite view.

If on-campus Norwich University undergrad students received no aid of any kind, they would be paying approximately $54,474 ($52,776 off-campus) each year alone to attend college here, not including the costs of books and transportation, which can be a small fortune by itself.  According to the most recent update (2014-15) from the National Center for Education Statistics, College Navigator tool, 27 percent of all Norwich University undergrad students received federal Pell Grant aid, and 62 percent received federal student loans. Last school year (2015-16), students received approximately $3.2 million in Pell Grant aid.

The Trump administration recently released its fiscal year 2018 budget request, which, per the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), included “significant cuts to certain federal student aid programs, and decreased the Pell Grant program surplus”. This budget proposal would affect student aid funding for the 2018-19 year. [Read more…]

A rebuttal on Recognition

“Was recognition earned, or given?”  The March 9 issue of the Norwich Guidon had a commentary with that headline, written anonymously by a member of the Corps of Cadets. Here is the reason why the opinions in the commentary are not  a legitimate argument. [Read more…]

22nd Annual Colby Symposium offers a look back at the legacy of World War I

  “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.” –Aldous Huxley

One hundred years ago today, on April 6, 2017, the United States formally entered World War I. In the months leading up to that day, President Woodrow Wilson officially severed diplomatic ties with Germany, and our nation readied itself for war. Six weeks later, the first U.S. infantry troops landed in France to begin training for combat.

The entrance of U.S. military forces into the four-year long global conflict helped turn the tide in favor of an Allied victory, but at a tremendous cost to American lives. When the Armistice was signed on Nov.11, 1918, of the more than two million U.S. soldiers who served on the battlefields of Western Europe, some 116,000 made the supreme sacrifice, 14 of them Norwich alumni. [Read more…]

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. 

[Read more…]

With heads held high, Norwich band, drill team did school proud

Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States (1801–1809), and one of the influential framers of the Constitution, was the first U.S. president to be inaugurated at the Capitol in Washington D.C., a city he helped plan. In his first inaugural speech, delivered on March 4, 1801, he said the famous words that are paraphrased in the Norwich University mission statement: “If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union …, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which … opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”

I bring this up because I received some negative feedback not long ago in response to the news that our Regimental Band and Drill Team would be performing in President Donald Trump’s inaugural parade. Now mind you, the vast majority of the feedback we received was overwhelmingly supportive of our students, but there were some detractors who were upset that our students were participating at all, and others who were unhappy with the statement that our students were “representing Vermont.”

We live in a country where, thankfully, difference of opinion is tolerated. It is our right as American citizens to think as we choose—a right that many have fought and given their lives for. But it is important to remember that opinions are not the same thing as principles. Two sentences prior to the above quote, Jefferson says: “Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.” I believe he is alluding to our Constitution, which comprises several principles, among them, the sovereignty of the people, the limitations of government, the separation of power, checks and balances, and so on. It is these democratic principles which guarantee Americans their freedoms and unify us as a people, regardless of our differing opinions.

Whether our students were consciously aware of it or not, these unifying principles were front and center at their performance on Jan. 20, 2017. They marched not just for Norwich University, but also for our democracy, for our founder, Alden Partridge, and for all Norwich alumni since Alonzo Jackman, our first graduate. With heads held high, they marched absent of any political agenda, and with only pride for their regiment, their university, and their country.

As Norwich University’s president, I could not be prouder of our students for continuing this Norwich tradition—one that dates back to the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy in 1961. At least one member of the class of 1963 who marched in that parade recalls being starstruck as he caught sight of the young president—so much so that he stopped beating the bass drum. In true Norwich fashion, the other band members continued on in perfect step, not missing a beat, until the bass drum struck up again two measures later. Such opportunities as this bring honor and prestige to our university, and help to form the Norwich bonds and memories that last a lifetime.