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thedrifter
10-18-07, 06:13 AM
Midshipmen struggle to adapt to policies that cut free time
by Jason Flanagan, The Examiner

BALTIMORE -

Changes in how U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen enjoy their free time is not being entirely embraced by the brigade.

“We’re supposed to be officers in training, but at times they’re treating us like 5-year-olds,” said Morgan Otto, a 22-year-old first-class midshipman, or senior, from Illinois.

“I would like to be able to get my car repaired or run errands instead of being locked down.”

When Vice Adm. Jeffrey Fowler became the 60th superintendent in June, he instituted policies that essentially took free time from the midshipmen during the weeknights.

Now, midshipmen are eating together and studying more.

“We have some free time between meals and before we sleep, so if you want personal time, that means sleep less and eat less,” said Jeremy Madina, a 24-year-old junior from New York.

In his only interview with the media last August, Fowler said the new policies were designed to better train the midshipmen, who will become officers and leaders in the Navy and Marine Corps.

“It’s more than just graduating midshipmen or having them excel personally here — that is important,” Fowler said in August.

“But in the end, they’re going to be leading sailors and Marines, and they need to start doing that on day one.”

But the policy change, now two months old, has been difficult on some of the upperclassmen, who were used to the more laid-back and personal touch of the previous superintendent, Vice Adm. Rodney Rempt.

“It does present a leadership challenge,” said Lucy Alvarez, a 22-year-old senior and squad leader. “Having spent three years under Admiral Rempt, we’re used to being able to work out or run errands. It has been a difficult transition. I wish it would have been more gradual.”

Despite their misgivings, the midshipmen could find some positives in the policies.

“It does make it more of a military institution,” Otto said.

As for whether the liberty policies will ease up, academy officials had no answer.

AT A GLANCE

New policies under Superintendent Vice Adm. Jeffrey Fowler:

No more liberty leave Monday through Thursday for all midshipmen.

Mandatory study hall for all midshipmen between 8 and 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, as well as Friday for third- and fourth-class midshipmen.

All midshipmen must have their dinner meals with their squadrons on campus Sunday through Thursday.

First-classmen — seniors — may get liberty leave upon good academic standing.

jflanagan@baltimoreexaminer.com

Ellie