Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Joys of Third Trimester, 4/c Year

Still a month until third trimester, but the Plebes are starting to dream about what it brings...

Military IDs are issued: A significant number of setbacks occur after 2nd trimester. Many of these setbacks into the next graduating year occur for academic reasons (typically after failing 2 classes in one Academic Year); and for plebe midshipmen who have not been cleared for sea duty, this means taking 8 months away from the Academy and repeating the trimester. As I understand, people on setback time do not drill with the Navy Reserve; 4/c/plebes and 3/c midshipmen are able to quit the Academy without occurring a military obligation. No good can happen with "valid" military IDs held by full-fledged civilians floating around. For this reason, it seems, the Academy does not issue our Naval Reservist IDs until third trimester.

Recognition: What is it like to be an upperclassmen? 4/c gets to find out when Recognition comes. This event happens after specific plebe missions are completed: spirit missions for the seniors celebrating 300, 200, and 100 nights left at the Academy; community service and high school visits to represent the Academy; passing 10 Plebe Knowledge Tests as a class (we've finished 6; it seems as if we are being fast-tracked right now: read on). After Recognition, 4/c gets most upperclasss privileges, including "rack in", or sleeping during the day; media privileges and order-in at all times, wearing backpacks, and being able to walk casually in Regimental areas. 4/c after Recognition still have to do cleaning stations and stand a hefty number of watchstations, but it's good to be recognized. There is a theory that plebes are recognized before open house in April (thus we are being rushed through Plebe Knowledge Tests), to raise morale and to show visitors that the plebes they saw back in August have moved on to a higher status.

Practical Sea Courses: For plebes who have been given a hard courseload in second trimester, ready-to-go-to-sea classes can be a relief for engineer students who have sizzled their minds with electrical engineering. There is also the excitement of preparing to ship out; like planning a vacation (but sea year is not a vacation), it's exciting to go through the administrative steps, one at a time, on the way to sea in June or October. (I'm scheduled to ship out in July).

Superplebes: Setback coming from third trimester are already recognized. I wouldn't imagine that they would room with unrecognized plebes (because of their immense privileges). One thing to note is that recognized 4/c wear collar insignia on campus, where unrecognized plebes do not. Third trimester is the first time that plebes don't formally greet everyone with collar insignia. Superplebes are your classmates.

Class Rates Liberty: Liberty policy is the same for 4/c from September to June, though third trimester 4/c are ensured three overnight liberties; whereas none are granted (they must be earned) in 1st or 2nd trimester (although we have our long weekends such as Columbus Weekend and MLK Weekend).

Return of the A splitters: 2/c and 3c who set out to sea in October will be returning later this month. People say that some are ready to "fraternize" with us, which they can't do until we're recognized. And they expect us to be recognized once they step off the boat. So that's a second reason, on top of making us cheerful for open house, why recognitition always seems to happen sooner than May.