I didn't go to a normal college. I decided to take the harder, rockier path and attend Norwich University, in the Corps of Cadets. One Norwich motto is: "Expect challenge. Achieve Distinction."
When I accepted, I expected challenge, I expected to be tested and to be put through my paces mentally and physically in order to achieve distinction. Without question, my first semester of college was the most difficult.
Rookdom (freshman corps training) and being an engineer pushed me farther than I had gone before and really showed me what I was capable of as a person.
Some people ask me “Were you hazed?" I say, in my opinion, it was not hazing. It was necessary training.
But, according to the new rules and regulations at my esteemed military college, most of what happened to me freshman year would have been considered hazing. As it was, one of my rook brothers (freshman in my platoon) decided to tell the president of the school what my Platoon Sergeant had done to us and he was promptly fired. The entire platoon petitioned to try and get him reinstated.
Here's the take away: My platoon sergeant and his cadre staff screamed at us all day long.
They forced us to do physical training before chow to earn the right to eat, made us say obnoxious and annoying "diddies" before asking a question and repeatedly tore our rooms apart to the studs. And that's completely okay. That is perfectly fine.
This process broke you down to your bare bones and said, “What are you made of, kid?"
It taught me what it means to be a follower and a leader, and how to stay calm in a stressful environment. The freshman class this year at Norwich most likely won't have a lot of that. Screaming is looked down upon, physical training in formation before chow is gone and many of the little, annoying things we had to do are no longer part of rookdom.
As a result, these rooks will be deprived of the challenges and trials that my class went through and they will be softer because of it.
Challenge is a good thing and being able to handle these challenges is what makes you into a successful leader in the future. I don't envy these rooks for their easier rookdom, I pity them because they will never know what they could have been. They won't get the rookdom experience that used to set the corps at Norwich apart.
So yes, I was hazed and yes, I hated it at the time. But knowing now what it did for me, I am glad I pushed through. I will achieve distinction.