This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Memorandum Discordia I. Introduction II. Concerning the Four Class System III. Concerning Day to Day Operations IV. Corrections V. Conclusions Final Exam: Daily Life and Foucault References 2 3 4 5 10 14 18 19 28
Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Company Commander, Alpha Company 233 Brodie Hall, Blacksburg, Virginia 24060 (540) 232-2895 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
1 February 2006 MEMORANDUM To: MG Allen
From: C/MAJ Robertson Subj: Discordia From the end of November in my junior year to the last semester of my senior year I have been compiling my thoughts on the Corps of Cadets in a political work called Discordia. During this year and a half of work on Discordia, I interviewed and spoke with many honorable Cadets on their thoughts and sentiments. Discordia, in effect, is a compilation of their opinions as well as my own, both positive and negative. It is this pragmatic approach that I believe gives credibility to this work. During my time I have learned many lessons, experienced extraordinary things, and enjoyed camaraderie to an exponential degree. This essay, “Discordia,” is the least that I can give back to the Corps of Cadets. I have written this essay with a sense of respect and duty. First, I respect every facet of the Corps and every officer in the Corps; second I see it as my duty to apply my degree in Political Science to the organization I have come to love. I believe it to be in the service of the Corps to agree, disagree, and debate the contents of this essay. Although some of the ideas expressed are subject to debate, I submit it as a gift to the Corps of Cadets and with sincere respect for you and your office. Sincerely,
Christopher D. Robertson C/MAJ, VTCC Company Commander, Alpha Company
Discordia: A Treatise Concerning the Corps of Cadets
Cadet Robertson, C.D.
4 I. Introduction Given four years of membership at a military school, one can obtain a thorough understanding of not only the military and its hierarchical facets, but also come to understand how it functions as a political body. From the freshman class to the senior class different attitudes have constantly existed to shape and guide the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets in its operations and day to day esprit de corps. I will attempt to argue for specific attitudes required for each functioning class within the Corps, and to dissect the institutions that create it. In effect, this is a discussion of the political esprit de corps as reflected by a Cadet at large. I would first like to define what “politics” and “political” mean with respect to operations within a Cadet body. The word “politics” often carries connotations of corruption, a proletariat class, and underlying resentment of the governing powers. This is not a scholarly definition, nor one that should apply in this essay. I would rather focus on more broad definitions as given by Michel Foucault, a prominent political thinker who wrote the bulk of his essays during the last third of the 20th century. His credentials on this subject are far too lengthy for their discussion in this paper, but clearly do establish him as an expert on military discipline and politics. Foucault’s definition concerning politics can be surmised by defining a social contract where discipline is paramount. The way that discipline functions inside of the contract is “politics”. In his writings Foucault lists how discipline works, particularly within a military body; discipline works on parts of the physical body, that movements and gestures are all geared to the simplest forms of conduct, that movements should be organized, that supervision and coercion are necessary. He used the military as his example because of the nature of his definition of a political body. Therefore, I do not wish for the term “politics” to carry with it any negative connotation; rather it should evoke an idea of a body exhibiting the four aspects outlined above. Although I will no longer discuss Foucault directly, save the Panoptic Model, his theories on military discipline and politics comprise the underlying foundation for this essay. Niccolò Machiavelli spent much of his political genius on discussing the roles of military positions. In the same manner that he outlined such positions as a sergeant’s, I will also attempt to detail the roles of positions that may be ambiguous to the Corps’ purposes outside of the true military, or positions that I believe to have particular characteristics that are note-worthy for our Corps; those positions may have extra responsibilities that have not been executed aside from a particular few Cadets that have been more wise about the positions they held. These positions of leadership differ at a military school from those in the military. It should also come as no surprise that the positions that I feel to have special qualities are all in a category of their own in that they all have direct influences on the freshman class.
5 II. Concerning the Four Class System Because the Corps embraces a four class system, there exist different attitudes toward the Corps native to each academic class. These classes, however, have different jobs within the Corps of Cadets. This can be partially dangerous and random; a class within the four class system may be “enthusiastic” and responsible for cadre positions. On the other hand, a class may be “apathetic” and be entrusted with fire team leader positions. The attitudes that exist within the classes must correspond with the particular job given to that class. I will attempt to examine which classes have which attitudes, why they have those attitudes, and to what their talents can be best applied. Hopefully, this classification of possible attitudes will better justify what positions they should hold and how to elicit the correct attitudes desired for each position. Freshman Year The Corps of Cadets as a political body inherently directs most of its attention to the training of the freshman class. With every new academic year comes a brand new regiment. The chain of command is new, our barracks undergo improvements, and our expectations are new. Freshman year allows for a clean slate; no Cadet that comes to the regiment for their freshman year has a strong comparison for which they may form an expectation of the things that upperclassmen see as new. All of the aspects that govern our level of discipline are yet to be determined for every clean-slate freshman. Because of the importance that the freshman class has for the Corps of Cadets, I will exhaust the political principles mentioned above in an attempt to figure out what works and what doesn’t work: what benefits the Corps, and what ultimately becomes a hindrance. Red Phase is a term that upperclassmen from the class of ’06 and prior look upon with respect and nostalgia. Every Cadet that has completed Red Phase does look back on their time in training with a certain sentiment of accomplishment; however, from the ’06 class and prior, an even stronger sentiment is felt due to certain training philosophies that have since changed. During the Red Phase that ’06 completed regimental “hell nights” were strategically placed to foster a sense of Corps pride. Hell nights have always been nights when physical correction and endurance have been critical. In order to successfully complete a hell night, the freshmen must work as a team and exhibit followership. Hell nights were abolished as part of the training regimen in 2007. The distinction between this important before and after is blatantly evident in the class of ’07, which has not had the benefit of Corps pride effected through hell nights. When I use the word “benefit”, I again write with the very same nostalgic sentiment that makes me love my cadre for teaching me so harshly. They, ’07, have been left alone to wallow, to lament their freshman year, and an epidemic of sorrow for their current condition has been allowed to grow within the Corps and outside of its control. Working toward a common goal should be the aspiration of any disciplined military unit. Whether that goal is combat, a particular level of proficiency, or something as menial as extended pass, there is always a goal whether overt of covert. Red Phase during my
6 freshman, or “rat year”, held many defined goals for my bud class. Some of those were improving our military bearing, our physical health, completing “hell nights” and overall, being able to withstand the standards placed upon us by our cadre. In us, the constant “fear” of a hell night helped to keep us performing our freshman duties well in order not to give the cadre any more reason to visit upon us any correction during those nights. Aside from the obvious negative reinforcement given us by the hell nights, a much stronger positive was felt by the bud class. We started together and finished together. Nothing was strong enough, not even our cadre, to break apart bonds we created during nights of adversity. On a broader scale, there were numerous activities that were meant to maintain discipline and keep us in line. The same activities were meant to “weed out” those who could not or did not demonstrate the “intestinal fortitude” to complete freshman year. As freshmen we were constantly aware that a system existed that would make our flaws visible and was completely capable of weeding us out. We stood in awe of that system. Because of these characteristics of my own freshman year, my bud class was instilled with a sense of self-pride. We did not only feel pride with our immediate buds but also the entire class of ’06. Pride should always be the goal for a freshman class. Once freshman year ends and the rats are ready to leave behind the world of constant correction and followership, leadership is one summer’s break away. The next year should build upon their already strong attitude of pride in their regimental bud class. Sophomore Year In the previous paragraphs I discussed a “system” that could “weed people out.” This system worked my freshman year as it had in years past, but the system had changed slightly. The hell nights that ’07 endured were no longer as prevalent as they had been for us. The class of ’07 was being cheated. They were being trained less fervently than my class had been, and this was cheating them of bud unity: being able to complete a hell night with their fellow buds. The sense of accomplishment that ’06 had felt at least once monthly was being denied the class of ’07. Because of this lack of a sense of accomplishment something changed in an attempt to bring back those sentiments: hazing. Hazing has not recently been a part of the philosophy of training within our Corps and I would not try to convince anyone that it ever should be; it certainly should not. The reason that hazing, from time to time, comes into the training philosophies of those in control of the freshman class is that the leaders feel that the system that was supposed to “weed out” certain freshman had failed. Without hell nights, the tool that kept the freshman class strong and deserving, dangerous alternatives were found to compensate for their absence. This is not to say that hazing is at all good; this is simply my understanding of why hazing has been a problem in instances that I have seen. These things help to make the sophomore class feel ineffective. For the sophomores who are trying to operate without hazing and within the Cadet Training Manual, this is a very
7 frustrating condition in which to lead. Sadly, an undisciplined freshman class seems to make a sophomore class very frustrated on many levels. A sophomore may be frustrated if his unit does not show the same discipline demanded of him and his bud class. Again, a sophomore can also be frustrated when they do not see pride within the freshman class because of a lack of adversity instilled in the freshmen. Of course the job for which sophomores are best suited is the Fire Team Leader. Holding the positions of Fire Team Leaders makes the sophomore class the “steering wheel of the company.” The attitude that should be most prevalent in the sophomore class is a sense of anticipation for how they can help the Corps. Being a “steering wheel” is no easy task. As the sophomores start to become comfortable in their new roles of leadership they tend to start having ideas of change. Many of these ideas can provide positive direction for the company. Some ideas that I have heard from sophomore classes are company activities, fund-raisers, and supplementary training. These activities tend to stratify over all four classes within the company. Paint-ball, company dinners, and raffles to raise money are all positive ideas that give back to the company. Because of the nature of these ideas it seems prudent to have an Operations Staff consisting of three or four sophomores. During my own sophomore year in Kilo Battery I was a member of the Op Staff. Knowing the possible benefits of having such a staff, one of my first activities as the Cadet First Sergeant in Kilo was to appoint a small group of sophomores who had positive qualities and aspirations of contributing to their company. Because their position can have such positive results, the Op Staff and the sophomore class as a whole should be seen as a guiding force within the company: a steering wheel. The medium must be found, however, for the freshman Cadet to receive much stricter discipline and correction, and for the sophomore Cadet to be able to lead within the guidance of his superiors. This ensures that the rat class has discipline and the sophomore class has the ability to lead without unnecessary frustration. The efficacy of the sophomore class with respect to their meager roles in leadership is a necessity in moving the Corps in a positive direction. In the classic political writing The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli noted the folly of Commodus, the Roman Caesar from 180 to 192 AD: Now let us consider Commodus, who found the empire easy to acquire, since it descended to him by hereditary right, as son of Marcus Aurelius; and if he had simply been content to follow his father’s footsteps, he would have satisfied both the populace and the soldiers. (p. 55) Although the passage taken is on a specific leader in history, the point Machiavelli was making was one of balance: the balance between cruelty and restraint. One can easily see the comparison between the “populace and the soldiers” and the freshman class and the discipline imposed by the sophomore class. Junior Year
The junior class has traditionally been the true “steering wheel” that can guide a battalion to greatness or failure. The same way that the sophomore class changes and directs a company, the juniors have control of battalion-level policies and the battalion modus operandi. The greatest Battalion Commanders have always enlisted the help of all of their “diamond” positions. This has proven to be a wise act because of the principle of “span of control.” When the battalion leadership is no longer able to govern a specific company of 60 people, the lower level governmental power, the “diamond”, should be used as the magistrate to enforce all battalion policies on his company. It should seem obvious to say that the junior class must exhibit enthusiasm as their dominant attitude. Its obviousness should not detract from its importance. This learned enthusiasm, however, has become a choice that all juniors consciously make either during their sophomore year or at the beginning of their junior year. This is what I refer to as the Great Enlightenment. The junior, both as the individual and as the collective, must choose to be enlightened; they need to accept being under military law and military customs. As it would apply to the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets this also means that we must be without some of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution. This comes more as a necessity rather than a noble desire to be a good Cadet. If the junior class accepts being enlightened, traditionally this only comes to fruition when they realize that a military commission is approaching or if they decide to campaign for a senior position. This leads me to my next point: the Corps experience is the product of the effort put into the Corps by each Cadet. A Cadet who complains, gripes, or makes all-encompassing negative remarks toward the Corps must realize that they have been stereotyped. Not only stereotyped, but justly stereotyped. In my experience the only Cadets guilty of such discourtesy toward the Corps have neither put the required effort into the Corps, nor have they attempted to change any aspect of the Corps that they find so disconcerting. This cannot be proven by any quantitative means, but any contrary argument to mine would be combated with many specific instances from my Cadet career. It is a qualitative argument; accept it or not, the Corps is what you put into it. Why doesn’t this Great Enlightenment happen until junior year? The truth is not one with which the sophomore class would be quick to agree. Sophomores are freshmen with the ability to stand “at ease.” The responsibility given to the sophomore class is by all accounts relatively small. This is a result of the design of the four-class system, and is upheld by the junior and senior classes. In a sense, the true ability to be enlightened is not available to a Cadet until they have started experiencing their junior year. What Cadet has the opportunity to truly excel at any style of leadership during their sophomore year? Few. It is the nature of sophomore year and not the direct fault of the sophomore class; rather it is the case that sophomores are still too near to the freshman experience than to the newer experiences granted them by true leadership positions. Senior Year
9 After the Great Enlightenment two categories of Cadets exist within the Corps of Cadets: those who accepted enlightenment and those who did not. But in practical terms these categories can be simplified to those who place drag on a company and those who do not. The company, being the smallest sovereign unit, must deal with both of these categories of seniors. It is easy to utilize the seniors who are not “friction” Cadets, but how should the company better deal with the seniors who not only cause friction, but enjoy causing friction? The first action that should be taken by the leadership is to segregate those Cadets from the rest of the unit. They, of course, are part of the unit during formations and Corps events, but because they have divorced themselves from the rest of the system they should be segregated within the barracks to ensure a more professional environment. The segregated Cadets should find it difficult to influence any other Cadet that is not openly part of the dissenting ranks, and especially the freshman class. Just as the freshmen are routinely billeted away from other upperclassmen, the friction Cadets should also be segregated from the freshmen. This act may seem too laissez faire with regards to the senior class, but it is far more productive to ensure that other classes not fall to the same end that the friction senior Cadets have created for themselves. Although no real statistic has been found to describe this phenomenon, I have heard it routinely said that “ten percent of your people will take up ninety percent of your time.” It is my personal opinion that fifty percent of those mentioned happen to be seniors. One of the responsibilities entrusted to commanders is to make sure that the company functions smoothly, and this includes applying even negative attitudes to help the company. I do not believe in using these Cadets in an instructional capacity is wise. It seems that the only viable solution is to use them for positions such as Recruiting Officer, Athletics Officer, Retention Officer, and possibly as Platoon Leaders. These positions can be actively monitored by the Company Commander and can be guided by in-progress reviews when tasks are necessary to the mission, whatever it may be. The influence that these Cadets have in cases like these are less active, but still contribute to the company in activities such as community service projects. The workload carried by Cadets in these positions will ultimately reduce stress on the Chain of Command. The senior class, because they have a responsibility to the Corps and its posterity, must embrace restraint. If they have become enlightened then they need to restrain themselves from becoming complacent. If they have not become enlightened then the seniors must not allow themselves to become overzealous. The seniors, in every respect, must restrain themselves from either abusing power or sinking into a lull that would not be becoming of a military officer. Only once they have personally restrained themselves can they ever enforce the policies of the Corps, in effect being able to restrain others and guide them to greatness as well.
10 III. Concerning Day-to-day Operations The Role of the Fire Team Leader The role of the Fire Team Leader has traditionally been slightly ambiguous within the Corps. For a job with such a potential for impacting freshmen this should not be the case. The biggest problem that I have found with sophomores is that they do not know the proper mechanisms and actions of a Fire Team Leader. A program to teach sophomores the job of the Fire Team Leader is exactly what is needed: a program that teaches them how to conduct inspections, how to use the chain of command with flawless confidence, and how to mentor the impressionable freshmen. This was the attempt in First Battalion for fall 2005. So far, the program has enjoyed great success in that now the sophomores are comfortable being Fire Team Leaders. They now have the necessary skills: conducting room inspections, uniform inspections, and the ability to speak to freshmen in a professional and instructive manner. I have seen the benefits of such a program and it is my urgent recommendation that all battalions follow the lead of First Battalion. Aside from the physical hands-on jobs that a Fire Team Leader must do, they must also remember one thing is paramount: that they are directly responsible for the spiritual wellbeing of their Fire Team. The Fire Team Leader is the first defense against immorality and unethical decisions. Many times, freshmen especially will make decisions or statements that are not within the confines of truth. This is not out of a blatant desire to lie; it is a blatant product of inexperience. A leader, no matter what manner of correction, must always remember that the ultimate goal is to instruct freshmen when they falter. Another part of their spiritual wellbeing is constantly maintaining the state of mind to learn and to train. If the Chain of Command fails to consider the spiritual wellbeing of their people, especially at the most basic level, then the rest of the Chain of Command cannot be expected to assume the responsibility if the primary influential level does not. The Role of the Cadre Sergeant The first point of instruction that I gave my cadre members during Cadre Week was concerning the lasting effects that their actions and instruction could have on the freshman class. I made clear to my cadre that some of the New Cadets would arrive with no foundation of military training. They do not have a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps from their high schools, they did not participate in a scout organization, and their family has traditionally not been in the service of the military. These are the Cadets that are the most interesting to train. They, with all of their other buds, do not have the necessary tools to survive the Corps until we give them these tools. This, as I told my cadre, is not a responsibility to be taken lightly. One of those Cadets who has no military foundation may continue his military career and become a general officer, an admiral, a leader of Soldiers in a great battle. That Cadet who started with nothing may become something great in this nation’s military forces, and the Soldiers that they will lead will determine the ultimate outcome of our freedoms. Moreover, these Soldiers will either
11 keep their lives, or will forfeit their lives based on the leadership of that Cadet who had no foundation. In a sense, the quality of training that we give to our freshmen may change the tides of war and affect a group of people larger than our Corps of Cadets could ever be. Therefore, I speak very highly of the cadre who has served with me, who have worked for me, and especially who have trained me. I might not be destined for greatness in the military but the cadre who controlled my life and trained me during freshman year undertook a responsibility that few understand. Regrettably cadre members themselves often do not fully understand this concept. The role of the cadre sergeant is ultimately to apply their personal talents and training to ensure order and followership. The cadre, as an institution, must realize that they are responsible for the success of their followers. In order for the cadre to succeed the freshmen must unquestionably trust their cadre. In order for this absolute trust to ensue the freshmen must also know that the cadre want to see them succeed in military discipline and in all of their training. With the success of the cadre comes the success of the freshman class: the sense of accomplishment that all freshmen should feel. The Role of the Cadet First Sergeant The first important responsibility of the First Sergeant is to make certain that the company is operating within battalion-level guidance. Many directives come down from the battalion leadership that fall within the Cadet Non-commissioned Officer domain. Standard Operating Procedures, as they are set from the battalion leadership, must be enforced by the Cadet First Sergeant. With this battalion-company relationship in place, the more difficult aspects of the Cadet First Sergeant can be examined. A Cadet First Sergeant must command the respect of every member within the company. Where the training of the freshmen is concerned, the First Sergeant must follow the guidance of the Executive Officer as I will discuss in a later section. There is one difference between the First Sergeant and any other Cadet with respect to the freshmen: the Cadet First Sergeant’s main concern is the spiritual wellbeing of the entire class. The same way that a Fire Team Leader is responsible for his fire team, the First Sergeant must make sure that the freshman class maintains a high level of spiritual and mental health. Once this is mastered, then the First Sergeant may also become responsible for the health of the entire company. Being the Cadet Non-Commissioned Officer with the most experience, the First Sergeant must be ready to give guidance and advice at a moment’s notice. There is one responsibility that the Cadet First Sergeant, if they are wise, must not take lightly. This responsibility is making sure that the unit remains an ethical entity. The First Sergeant must understand that from spiritual wellbeing comes a common discipline from shared faith: faith in themselves, the unit, the Corps, and God. In order for a unit to operate within ethical standards, they must be faithful in all of those aspects.
12 The Role of the Cadet Executive Officer The Executive Officer is one position within the Corps of Cadets to which too little attention paid especially given the possible impact that an Executive Officer may have on their company and their battalion. As per my own experience, I will discuss only the company-level Executive Officers. The first role of the Executive Officer encompasses the responsibility of being the company’s authority on training. All aspects of training, including planning, briefing, executing, and after-action reports, are the direct responsibility of the Executive Officer. Valid training can be done on many levels: squad, platoon, and company. The Executive Officer, if proper training is to be done, should give guidance to all of the leadership occupying these levels. The Platoon Sergeant, being a leader of less training experience, will benefit from the guidance of the Executive Officer and may eventually be able to plan and execute future training exercises with less input from the Executive Officer. The same condition is true of the Squad Leader and the First Sergeant; however, the Squad Leader would be wise to get all of their training guidance from their own Platoon Sergeant. This is to reinforce the chain of command and to ensure that all areas are instructed to each member in the platoon. The most effective way to complete this task, generally, is for the Executive Officer to set directives on what topics must be covered. After the topics are set, the platoon leadership and squad leadership may execute the training within the guidance of the Executive Officer. Aside from this prescription, the platoon leadership has great latitude to execute the necessary training as they see fit. The Executive Officer sets the standard, gives guidance when needed, and takes responsibility for the training that the company has completed and has not completed. There is very little difference between being responsible for training and being responsible for discipline. As I once told my freshmen when asked for a definition of my job: “I’m responsible for the discipline of all four classes. If you [the freshmen] have a discipline issue then I address it. If the seniors have a problem then I fix it.” That is not to say that I personally am the example of an Executive Officer; it simply highlights the job description of what one should be. An Executive Officer must first take ownership of the training to take ownership of discipline. If an Executive Officer truly is proud of his company for training well, then he will also be proud of the discipline that follows; that is to say that if the training of all four classes is complete then true unit discipline will follow. University-Corps Relations The “War on Terror” has gripped the American public in a bitter political debate since the first attacks on American soil in 2001. Due to the strong political convictions that the public has, either personally or as a collective, Cadets have had to endure public ridicule rather than enjoy its support. Public scorn has been the motivation for a civilian to spit on a past Cadet friend of mine and inform him that he was the reason for the “war for oil.” This is a single example within a Corps of Cadets that knows many examples. I
13 submit that without a new outlook on University-Corps relations, there will be no Corps; only the University will exist. The Corps has systematically been reduced in size by public opinion and in location by the University. While we occupy the small corner of campus that we do, our counterparts are quite content to get rid of our ranks all together. It is up to the future classes within the Corps to make public our reason for existence. In recent history Cadets tend to complain about circumstances, either justified or not. The future classes, because it is their inherited responsibility, must understand that if Cadets complain about ourselves it reinforces civilian behaviors of prejudice toward Cadets. There is not much to say on this subject; simply know that if the climate does not change favorably for the Corps, the Corps will cease to exist. Cadet Shuffle System Analyzed The previous Cadet shuffle system, the transfer of company membership after sophomore year, worked insofar as both company-level and Corps-level pride is ensured. Many would disagree with me; the opposing argument is that the previous system which allowed Cadets to stay static with their bud class for an extra year fostered only company pride and did not encourage Corps pride. This is truly possible, but there is a much larger issue. Pride does not correspond to the time spent in a unit but the amount of activity while in a unit. The previous system allowed for a great deal of activity with the company ensuring a common sense of pride for the unit. So, the logical jump that I propose is not that Corps pride was strengthened by changing the shuffle system, but that once the system changed, the Corps needed to implement activities of which its members would be proud. The same amount of time is spent within the Corps, yet the activities that the Corps embraces do not foster pride; they foster animosity. Formations and inspections, while necessary to execute a true a military school, are not activities that foster pride. They are ultimately necessary and they are fundamentally annoyances. While these things start out breeding annoyance and later breed abhorrence. There is little room for pride between the two. Who conducts activities if the regiment does not? The company. Because activities aren’t done on a regimental level, the company picks up the slack; therefore, company pride will always be higher than Corps pride until the regiment realizes its fundamental misunderstanding. Parts of the Cadet shuffle system were fixed; however, it may have been changed for the wrong reasons. The change in the shuffle system did not create Corps pride and it did not diminish company pride. The endeavor to fix the lack of Corps pride has failed – not the shuffle system itself.
14 IV. Corrections The Panoptic Model Military discipline was the subject of scrutiny to Michel Foucault. One of his famous political designs that he applied to this subject was the Panopticon. The word “panopticon” has its roots in the word “panoramic.” The Panopticon as Foucault designed it was a prison with pure functionality and efficiency in mind. The function of the prison was to maintain control through panoramic surveillance of its inhabitants. It was cylindrical, had a column in the center, and each floor had one row of cells that followed the edge of each respective circle. The column in the center was the command center from which any cell on the floor could be seen at any time. In one of my previous academic papers I used the Panopticon to show that the same characteristics existed in Monteith hall. The Company Commanders are all located in the relative center of each floor or hallway. This allows them to exit their room, look left and then right, and have a clear and complete picture of what is happening within their unit. The same functions that the Panopticon served are all also served by the layout of our barracks. In Brodie Hall, the Company Commanders may exit their room, look down one hallway then the other, and again have a total understanding of the happenings in their unit areas. In conjunction with segregation, this panoptic model should also be utilized in order to maintain the desired military discipline. Segregation Due to Class Distinction As has been already said, one of the main objectives of this essay is to highlight the attitudes and motivations that are necessary for each of the four classes in order to lead the Corps to greatness. Because the attitudes of each class are totally different, it would be of benefit to segregate each class from the others so that they may build upon their own foundations without influence from another class. A freshman class that is full of enthusiasm and unit pride cannot benefit from the attitude of a sophomore class that is discovering legitimacy in their leadership. They are two separate issues. They are not only separate but they could also find themselves in conflict. The enthusiastic freshmen may find themselves in a position that would be feeding the sophomore class in an inappropriate manner. The sophomores, being sometimes dangerous and unpredictable, may use their new legitimacy to issue orders that are not lawful. The restraint that the senior class should exhibit should not be allowed to mix with the anticipation that the sophomores should feel. The enlightened juniors leading the battalion to greatness should not be allowed to influence the freshmen who do not understand the complexities of battalion-level leadership. Although the lessons would someday prove useful to the freshmen, the state of mind that they have as followers would not enable them to grasp the more complex aspects of leadership. These are simple examples of conflict; yet these seemingly simple conflicts do present a much larger problem: undermining the four-class system.
15 Traditions: The Dyke System Part of a military school is structured around tradition. Every Cadet, officer, and noncommissioned officer who works as a part of a military school embraces traditions as vital. Because military tradition is so valuable, great care must be taken to make it better and to preserve it for future classes. The dyke system; we all know it exists, we are all part of it, and it is suffering from two afflictions. The first affliction is the allowance of “friction Cadets” to have a freshman dyke. The second affliction is the continued existence of the dyke family. In order to make the dyke system work certain criteria must be met by both the freshman involved and the junior. It is painfully clear that a freshman who is assigned to a “friction Cadet” as their dyke, becomes like their dyke. I will not cite specific examples because there is simply no need. The truth remains that juniors who break regulations and do not meet standards will infect their freshman dyke with the same attitude. This infection spreads further than most Cadets understand. First, the freshman is infected, then they pass it to their buds, and ultimately in two more years they will be juniors reinforcing this complacent attitude to new freshmen. The only way to remedy this situation and to save the dyke system as a whole is to make very clear qualifications for dykehood. The freshmen must be respectful. They must have carried out their duties to the best of their ability at all times. They must openly show their faith in the Corps and their love of their country. Beyond this point there is no need to make new criteria. This is the case because the junior should have to meet the strictest qualifications of the two. The junior, being the more “wise” or the two has the responsibility due to the freshman being less experienced. I use the term “wise” loosely; the junior has more experiences. In order for a junior to qualify, they must have shown a propensity to obtain good grades, positive leadership traits, proper uniform wear, and a clean record. This is assuming of course that the junior already meets the fundamental criteria that the freshman has; there is no point in letting a junior influence a freshman dyke if the junior is not an honorable person. That being said, it is evident that not enough care was given to making the class of ’06 understand that dyke “families” cannot exist. This situation led to a number of fraternization cases over which the freshmen had no control. The victims of circumstance, the freshman are hardly responsible for following their dyke into a dyke family. Fraternization, bred of the two afflictions, is one of the main causes for decreased unit morale. If upperclassmen are allowed to fraternize with freshmen, then the professional aspirations of the freshman class are cut short. They no longer look forward to maintaining a professional decorum; they no longer have the friendship of the upperclassmen to look forward to. Business is the providence of professionals, not friends. This is the freshman-upperclassman condition. Total professionalism is the key to maintaining high unit morale.
Political Correctness In a post-modern liberal society, much attention is given to politically correct, or incorrect for that matter, terms. We, as a Corps, have segregated ourselves from society in our dress, actions, and speech. Our vocabulary in the Corps does not parallel that of society nor should it have to. We are not subject to sanctions imposed by society for our “politically incorrect” terminology. One example of this is the term “rat.” We publish this term in our Guidon and we refer to the rat path and rat lines. If we refuse to keep our tradition and do not use the term that we see fit, and in essence allow society to say that we are wrong in using that term, then why should we still publish the term in our Guidon? Why should we refer to the term as it used to be and only in avoidance? A second example that I will cite is the term “hell night.” It has recently been changed to be called a “pride night” or a “fun night.” The intention of a hell night is to instill a sense of accomplishment. If accomplishment is the true goal of the hell night, then the name that it traditionally has had is as fitting a name as is “night of extreme adversity, coupled with training by upperclassmen.” It is my sincere warning to the Corps that if this political correctness continues in the form that it does now tradition will be hard to keep. This situation seems to me, and to a large proportion of the Corps, insulting. It is an insult to our institution that we allow society, outsiders and ignorant people, to dictate how we have separated ourselves from them. Disgruntled Cadets: The Malcontented Lower Class Within the Corps exists a strange paradox: the distrust of the chain of command when the chain is the governing power. Commonly, a task is delegated by cadet commanding officers to the person of lowest rank who can conceivably complete the task, yet if they fail, the commanding officer has effectually absolved himself and his chain of responsibility. This creates the lack of trust in a chain of command by its members. Another way that Cadets find themselves not trusting their chain is because the lack of enforcing standards. If one Cadet observes their chain enforcing a standard then there is no question that the Cadet in the leadership role is honorable; they most likely have the best interests of their followers at heart. If a Cadet sees that standards are not enforced then the logical conclusion is to not trust their chain to do their fundamental job: to set and enforce the standards. It is the distrust in the chain of command that has laid the foundations for a lower class to exist within the Corps. This malcontented lower class has few options. They may sit idly by being reassured that standards are meaningless, or they may become part of the system that they already distrust. Neither choice is very attractive. The problem has to be fixed partly within the chain and simultaneously with the Cadet.
17 One option we have recently seen is to operate outside the chain of command. A survey last year, which operated outside the chain of command, was intended to bring about change within the Corps and had obvious intentions of being disrespectful. Although this is not a valid course of action to take, it does highlight an unwritten regulation about the First Amendment of the United States Constitution: that the freedom of speech does not apply to a Cadet within the Corps. This is a necessary rule. In order to call ourselves among the ranks of military schools, Cadets must understand that speaking freely, especially in the view of the outside world, is not tolerable and is not conducive to promoting the organization as a political body. We must use the military model and understand that we are simply not entitled to freedom of speech. Allowing Cadets to operate outside of the chain of command will eventually lead to more disgruntled Cadets. They will become disenchanted with the results, no matter how seemingly valid they are. This seems to be a self-fulfilling prophesy; they are again part of the proletariat class. This completes the cycle of Cadets not trusting their chain of command.
18 V. Conclusions The Corps of Cadets is a political body whether we wish to admit it or not. It is militarily structured and has traditionally called to service some of the best Americans in our country. Embracing change is not a task done without active participation in the political process. It is something that can only happen when those within the organization engage in discussion and explore how the change will happen and how it will ultimately shape their organization. Change is necessary. That is not to say that it is inherently a necessary evil, yet it is necessary for the continuation of organized political bodies. The attitudes outlined within this essay are paramount to the survival of the Corps. Any Cadet may strive to attain perfection, but all Cadets must embrace their class and the attitudes that they should have in order to make real and valid change be a meaningful process. Therefore, complacency and the failure to analyze these topics would concede defeat; the Corps would not exist.
Preface to “Final Exam: Daily Life and Foucault”: The following is a final exam that I submitted during my junior year. This essay directly applies to how the Panopticon is used in the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. The text is included here exactly as it was when it was submitted for the class.
Final Exam: Daily Life and Foucault
Introduction Being a cadet brings many challenges to an already challenging college career. Many would compare the level of discipline that goes into being a cadet to the level of discipline that is enforced in a prison. Foucault is one of these political theorists: he would recognize the similarities between those principles of a disciplined society and a military school. Because Foucault was an ardent critic of discipline and how it works, Foucault could use his theories of time, space, and observation to explain how it is that a cadet may define himself as a cadet and how the system disciplines that person. These challenges with respect to discipline were noted by Foucault when he said that “[The progress of societies and the geneses of individuals] were perhaps correlative with the new techniques of power, and more specifically, with a new way of administering time and making it useful…” (page 160).
Distribution of Space and Time, and the Functionality of Rooms Foucault described how, specifically, space and time are cornerstones to becoming a disciplined person. Principles of enclosure, partitioning, and functionality are all evident
20 in my day to day activities. First the principle of enclosure, as Foucault theorized it, deals with governing space. All cadets are required to live on campus. Not only must we live on campus, but we are “confined” to a section of campus known as the “Upper Quad.” We have 3 dorms that house approximately 800 cadets. The dorms are all in close proximity of each other. This aids in a few things concerning our business day: the first is aiding in the flow of communication, and another is solidarity. A smooth flowing communication system is absolutely essential to ensuring that all regulations, orders, and policies are adhered to. The close proximity in which we live makes us a tight, cohesive brotherhood. In these ways our daily routines are modified in such a way that we become disciplined. Another way that space is controlled is the privileges that we are allowed to take with our rooms. Posters and rearranging the furniture are two privileges that freshmen do not have for the majority of their first year in the Corps. We control their space by not allowing distractions like posters to be put up in their rooms. We control their space by not allowing them to move their furniture from the standard when they first arrive. The reason for the standardized furniture is to aid with room inspections; it is easier to clean one’s room and get it ready for an inspection if the furniture is in a basic arrangement. The last way that I will discuss in this paper, that we the upperclassmen control freshman rooms is by our presence. If an upperclassmen is inside of a freshman room that room then belongs to the upperclassmen. Any other freshmen wishing to enter that room must ask the permission of that upperclassman. One minute a freshman will be doing something in his room, and the next he’s being inspected by an upperclassman, in a room that used to be his just seconds ago. This could also be tied into Hierarchical Observation later in this paper. The more immediate Foucauldian theory that I would
21 apply is the control of space.
Secondly the principle of functionality of our rooms deals with how our rooms are arranged and what items are contained therein. The space in which we are required to live is not big. Cadet rooms have one window, and two of each of the following; desks, chairs, racks, closets, dressers, shower hooks, and storage compartments above the closets. Each cadet has one of each of these room items at his disposal. The room is designed for one sole purpose; to aid in our academic studies. This is not unlike the civilian dorms. The aspect that sets our rooms apart from civilian dorms is the room inspections. A cadet’s room is considered “inspectable” from morning formation (a subject which will be explained later in this paper) at 0800, to the end of our business day at 1700; 8AM and 5PM respectively. The room is inspected at random by anyone who is directly in charge of the cadet being inspected. Foucault realized that governing space, as it is in prison, helps to discipline the mind. In this sense, a cadet must discipline his mind to clean his room, and make it ready for inspection every day without regard for extenuating circumstances. This leads me to Foucault’s theory of distribution of time.
The distribution of time is what every cadet must learn as soon as humanly possible in order to be successful as a cadet. Time-management, as it is commonly known, is how our communication system works so efficiently. By controlling time, the Corps of Cadets regiments itself by keeping to a strict schedule. There is a morning formation every day, where every cadet within the regiment must be present unless excused, and there are study hours depending on your academic class. As an Army cadet I also have PT or
22 physical training on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. A typical Wednesday morning would be as follows: I would wake up at 0500 and go to PT, where we would most likely run 5 to 6 miles. Then I would come back to Upper Quad around 0640 and shower before morning formation. Morning formation is at 0730, but every cadet must be ready by 0710. This means that I have exactly half an hour to shower, shave, to don the cadet uniform, and to make sure that all those of whom I am in direct command are also ready for formation. This is a prime example of how time must be managed in order to further a disciplined society.
Foucault’s Temporal Elaboration of the Act can be best exemplified by marching. When a unit marches, they are attempting to elaborate on how unified they are by doing everything in time. Marching is a basic military discipline instruction tool because of its underlying benefits. It teaches unity, skill, control, and ultimately cohesion within the unit. Not so different from Temporal Elaboration of the Act is Foucault’s theory of Correlation of Body and Gesture. This theory says basically that if the body is disciplined to perform an action, then the mind will follow. Foucault says that “The individual body becomes an element that may be placed, moved, articulated on others” (page 164). Marching and rifle drill are prime examples. Through mistakes the unit will learn how to accomplish the drill required. Once they have mastered that drill and it looks the way it should look, then their mind will follow suit, knowing that they must live the part of military life because of the level of skill they need.
Architecture of a Military School; Panoptic Model
23 Foucault’s Panopticon has many similarities to the building in which I live. The Panopticon, as we discussed in class, has a central observing power with all of its subjects placed around it in a circle. If the Panopticon were to be stretched out into a straight line and the observing power place in the middle of that line, then it would look much like Monteith Hall; where 3rd Battalion is housed. Foucault said that the basic relation between panopticism and discipline was this: “Panopticism is the general principle of a new ‘political anatomy’ whose object and end are not the relations of sovereignty but the relations of discipline” (page 208). I live in Monteith Hall with close to 250 other cadets. The hall is four floors, and has one main entrance in the center of the building. In the center of the first floor is where Col. Payne’s office is; the Deputy Commandant of 3rd Battalion. This allows him easy access to see who is coming into his building and who is leaving. Although Col. Payne is located on the first floor, the other floors do not go unchecked. A senior cadet who is command of each company within our battalion is located on each floor. A Company Commander may poke their head out of their room, look left and right, and immediately tell if there is problem that demands their attention. Any noise, movement, or otherwise undisciplined action would easily be seen by that senior cadet. This allows for Foucault’s Panopticon to be used as he stated on page 201: “Hence the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures automatic functioning of power.” The only design difference is the two-dimensional aspect of the line barracks, rather than the three-dimensional panoptic prison.
24 The second part of cadet Standard Operating Procedures that makes Monteith Hall part of the panoptic model is BDO: Battalion Duty Officer. The BDO is a junior cadet that is assigned every night for a four hour shift to monitor noise levels, keep those not authorized out, and keep those who are supposed to be inside on their best behavior. This cadet’s home base for the night is just inside the main entrance on the first floor. Although he is operating from the first floor, this again does not mean that the levels above him are not monitored. Every hour, the BDO makes rounds. On his rounds he will visit every floor, correct problems that need correcting, and even walk around the building outside to verify that no one or thing outside is there that should not be there. The real connection to the panopticon is this: the architecture of Monteith Hall allows for rounds to be conducted quickly and efficiently. There are three stairwells that feed Monteith’s four floors; one at each end of the building, and the main middle stairwell. The most efficient way to cover the ground needed is to start at the end of the first floor and walk to the other end. Now the cadet will go up a level to the second floor and complete walking from one end to the other again. This would be continued until all four floors were covered. The cadet would return to the base floor at his desk, within three minutes, leaving his set post for the smallest amount of time possible. Our BDO, or rooming sentry as one may call it, is best described by Foucault on page 196: “This surveillance is based on a system of permanent registration: reports from the syndics to the intendants, from the intendants to the magistrates or mayor.”
25 Foucault described coercion through supervision as Hierarchical Observation. A hierarchy must exist in order for this theory to work correctly. The best example for Foucault’s Hierarchical Observation is the system by which we maintain supervision over the freshman class. To maintain a professional atmosphere, freshmen room with other freshmen, and upperclassmen with other upperclassmen. The freshmen are also usually confined to one end of the hallway so that freshmen rooms are near other freshmen rooms. This furthers their idea of the hierarchy of power. Freshmen are the learners and the upperclassmen are the teachers. If an upperclassman has to correct a freshman, then they only need to go to the freshman end of the hallway and find the correct freshman’s room. Foucault recognized this fact when he said that “In organizing ‘cells’, ‘places’ and ‘ranks’, the disciplines create complex spaces that are at once architectural, functional and hierarchical” (page 148).
Normalizing Judgment The Corps of Cadets is a self-governing body. It is the largest of its kind on the Virginia Tech campus. Because this is the case, and because we have approximately 800 cadets, we need to check and see what it is we do that works, and what things we do that do not work. This is Foucault’s theory of Normalizing Judgment. The most extreme cases that would apply to Normalizing Judgment are the ones where cadets get into trouble. The cadet Executive Court handles these cases and we operate based on Foucault’s five questions on Normalizing Judgment. Those questions that we must ask ourselves are: What are the expectations in our behavior? What should we attempt to accomplish? Will defects be corrected? The rewards are more favorable that punishment, so are they just?
26 How do we rank each cadet? When a cadet goes to Executive Court and goes on trial, he has been accused of breaking a regulation. I personally am a Prosecutor, and I have to ask questions much like those previously stated in order to build my case and recommend sanctions.
Resisting the System Foucault does not have a chapter or essay entitled “This is how to resist the Man.” He does not explicitly give a formula for resisting discipline or resisting the system that is attempting to discipline you. Instead, the only way to resist a system such as the Corps of Cadets is to forgo the fundamentals of day to day life. Foucault noted that the many “disciplines” had undertaken minute changes: “…in the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the disciplines became general formulas of domination” (page 137). One would have to attack the fundamentals of day to day life, especially given the nature of our daily activities. When a cadet wants to resist discipline, common avenues are not shining their shoes, letting their hair get to within a questionable length, and not cleaning their rooms to the standard that is demanded by the superior cadets.
Personally, just as all cadets do, I resist the system in very minor ways. I take much pride in my uniform and appearance so I do not resist in the usual way of not shining my shoes or maintaining my haircut. Instead my outlet is my room. I clean my room, but I do not take the care and time necessary to make it 100% inspectable. If my room were to be inspected it would pass inspection, but if it were to be inspected very carefully then I would come out of that inspection with a few “gigs” such as dust or a spotless mirror. I
27 do not view it personally, however, as resistance. I rather look at it as an outlet. My individuality is not gone just because I answer to a disciplined organization. I do follow the regulations and rules administered by my superiors, but sometimes I would rather get breakfast than worry too much about how many spots are on my mirror.
Marx, Briefly on the Corps of Cadets As with all organizations in society, some goal is being accomplished. Because of our specific goal of disciplining ourselves and holding each other accountable, there is a distinct division of labor and how we collectively attempt to accomplish our goal. This labor is divided up into a class system. Marx, as he was a critic of capitalism, saw that divisions in labor made inequality inevitable. In our system, each academic class from freshmen to seniors has specific jobs in the Corps of Cadets. Freshmen are the followers, sophomores are learning to lead, juniors handle the grunt work of training, and the seniors are responsible that the tasks are done well.
Conclusion Foucault has outlined theories of discipline in basic terms. He noticed that architecture among other things plays a part in how disciplined a group can become. The Corps of Cadets, in its goal of becoming more disciplined, embraces many of Foucault’s theories. Our day to day operations as a regiment are all based on principles that Foucault noted in his political writings. We control our own space within the unit and we control our schedule. All of these things help refine our methods and our end result.
References Foucault, M. (1978). Discipline and punish: the birth of the prison. (A. Sheridan, Trans.). New York: Pantheon. Machiavelli, N. (1977). The prince (2nd ed.). New York: Norton. Machiavelli, N. (2001). The art of war (N. Wood, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Da Capo.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.