Corps of Cadets units reactivated in age of expansion
Published: Friday, August 23, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 18:08
The reactivation of three Corps of Cadets units, C-Company, C-Battery and Squadron 4, through ceremony this Friday and Saturday marks another step in the overall trend of Corps expansion and diversification.
With roughly 2,500 cadets in the Corps for the 2013 fall semester, General Joe Ramirez Jr., commandant of the Corps of Cadets, said the Corps is the largest it has been since 1970.
Ramirez said as general student enrollment grows, increased recruitment enables the Corps to maintain visibility across campus and has thus been one of the Corps’ highest priorities.
“We have wanted to grow the Corps so that we can make it as visible on campus again as it was back in the day,” Ramirez said. “The University has grown, the Corps has not.”
The reactivation ceremony for the band units C-Company and C-Battery took place at 10 a.m Thursday at the Sanders Corps of Cadet Center. The ceremony for Squadron 4 will take place 11 a.m on Saturday at the same location.
In fulfilling promises made to former students, Ramirez said the reactivation of Squadron 4 will mark the seventh unit reactivated under his command.
“[The reactivation of units] brings back former students and gives them a sense of identity with the Corps again because their unit is now back on the quad,” Ramirez said. “My goal is that if we continue to grow the Corps, I’m going to continue to bring back more outfits.”
Tom Kallina, Class of 1984 and former commander of C-Battery, said the reactivation not only gives him a chance to meet up with fellow cadets from his time in the Corps, but bears further significance because his son, senior sports management major Brian Kallina, will be C-Battery’s first legacy member.
Kallina said he commends all the outstanding and capable cadets who chose to lay the foundation of the unit’s revival, but encourages leadership to continue top-tier recruiting, the “lifeblood of any organization.”
As new units seek to find their own unique identities in unit-specific traditions, Kallina said he hopes to see the continuation of certain terminology.
“Regarding any aspects of the old C-Battery that I would like to see carried forward, we were referred to as ‘Charlie-Battery’ so as to not be confused with B-Battery,” Kallina said.
In addition to encouraging a sense of identity for students throughout the years, Ramirez said the expansion of the Corps comes with a goal of diversification to prepare students for the post-graduation work place.
Noting that 160 female cadets have joined this year’s freshman class, the largest number of females ever in a Corps class, Ramirez said advertising methods specifically targeted at minorities and females have played a role in the changing demographics.
“We want to present a diverse Corps for our cadets because that truly represents the world they are going to enter when they leave Texas A&M University,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez also attributes the increase in the number cadets of all backgrounds to the Corps’ first priority under his command: education.
As the Corps expands, Ramirez said his goal is to eventually turn the Quad into a 21st century living learning community for the cadets with four Leadership Learning Centers. While funding is still a work in progress for two of these buildings, one Leadership Learning Center is currently fully operational and another has already been funded by alumni.
In addressing cadets at the reactivation ceremony Friday, Ken Roberson, class of 1983 and first commander of C-Company, advised cadets to take advantage of the educational resourced that are now available.
“The academics of the Corps and band has never been stronger,” Roberson said. “There was nothing like that when I came to school here 30 years ago. You pretty much came to campus, went to school and you were on your own. It’s as simple as that. Nowadays, there is so much available to you, so I encourage you to take advantage of that.”
Despite the benefits of Corps growth, Ramirez said the closing of one dorm for renovations, coupled with the rapid increase of Corps members, causes difficulties in housing cadets. Of the 2,500 cadets, Ramirez said there is currently enough bed space for only 2,400 cadets in the eleven fully operational Corps. As a result, Ramirez said some Corps dorms will house three cadets per room.
To select the roughly 300 cadets who will have two roommates, Ramirez said the Corps is asking for upperclassmen volunteers. To incentivize, Ramirez said cadets will be offered a refund of around $500 if they are still tripled up by September 16.
“Our goal is to ‘un-triple’ the cadets as quickly as possible,” Ramirez said. “It’s not an optimal solution, but it’s probably the best way we can handle things. The whole University is struggling with trying to find space for all these students who are coming in. It’s a challenge, but it’s a good one to have.”
Cadets in reactivated units face the difficulty of paying for the startup costs of physical training gear and general unit equipment, but with the help of alumni donations all three units were able to find funding for all essential gear needed.
While unit commanders and cadets expressed gratitude toward alumni for their financial donations, Peter Schneider, senior kinesiology major and executive officer of C-Company, said C-Company’s short existence in the 1980s left the unit with few old traditions to draw on.