Input form current USAFA cadet parents

Discussion in 'Service Academy Parents' started by mdanderson, Feb 7, 2009.

  1. mdanderson

    mdanderson Member

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    My S recently received appointments to both USAFA and USNA. He is obviously ecstatic and we are extremely proud of this accomplishment. His first choice has been Air Force for some time, however there are some things that have concerned us and now that he does have a choice, I was looking for some wisdom. I have never posted before, but was hoping that someone with a cadet and an honest assessment of the culture at Air Force could give us a take on their perception.
    We are a multi-ethnic family, far from religious, and it has been our number one priority to teach our children (and we have 6) to accept, respect and celebrate differences in those around us. They have learned from their experiences, from their exposure--they are well traveled- and from the fact that we have always tried to walk the walk in our every day lives. At the end of the day, these values have driven their choice of profession, the diverse groups of people with whom they choose to interact, and most importantly the strong belief that they are their brothers' keepers. This foundation is by far my son's greatest strength and what has compelled him to a life of service.
    That said, I am however concerned about USAFA's recent struggle with evangelism and the notion that there still may still be a culture of coercion, bigotry, and intolerance of religious and cultural differences alive and well in Colorado Springs. We did not get that sense at USNA and in fact felt that while religious needs (all religions) were supported in every way, there was a place for everyone, believer or not. My hope is that USAFA is well on their way to rectifying what seems to have once been somewhat pervasive--- but as a civilian employee in the military I know how slowly the wheels turn and how difficult self-examination can sometimes be.
    I know this is a sensitive issue, and I am certainly not looking to be adversarial, I would just like to get a REAL read on what is going on today. The thing stressed most about this service academy journey is that both the candidate and the parent understand the road ahead and get the full picture.
    The last thing we want is to encourage him to make a choice that he will regret.
    Thanks for your input!
     
  2. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    Our son is in the class of 2011, and has never said anything about the things that you mentioned. His religion has never been an issue.

    For some background, we are a Catholic family, and our son attended Catholic schools for 12 years. He continues to be involved in the Catholic community at USAFA. In his time there, he has had roommates who were African-American, Southern Baptist, and Jewish, and has never once has their race or religion ever been an issue. In fact, he usually will not even mention race/religion when he is telling us about a new roommate. It is usually more focused on where he is from, what his major is, or whether he is an IC or not. His two best friends are not Catholic or white, yet it is really not even something that these cadets worry about.

    I think this is more of an issue of media perception than of reality. As always, when cadets make a mistake, it is big news. When the other 99% of cadets live by the honor code, respect each other, and follow the rules, it is simply not newsworthy.

    Stealth_81
     
  3. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Stealth_81 said it as well as it can be said, I think.

    There was a huge "issue" for the past several years and one USAFA graduate attorney became very involved because he was the father of a cadet and they claimed that there was just the environment you described.

    It's pretty much gone nowhere other than the media. Now, am I naive enough to think that there's not a little of this at USAFA? No. But I'm also sure it's at USNA...and USMA...and USCGA...and USMMA....and UofFL, ASU, Stanford, etc...etc...in short, it's in life, all around us.

    Either SA will be a wonderful experience for your son...he's to be congratulated for having such a miserable chore as choosing! :thumb:

    FYI...I had that same task...it's very humbling and yet exhilirating!
     
  4. mdanderson

    mdanderson Member

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    I so appreciate your responses--these situations surely exist at any institution. At the end of the day, the proactivity of the administration is what is important. USAFA probably faces more scrutiny because of its location in CS.
    You are right--any one with this choice is SO fortunate. He knows it and so do we.........
     
  5. 2011's Mom

    2011's Mom Parent

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    Church Comments

    Sometime last year I actually asked my D if there was religious pressure, as I had heard once occurred. She told me she has never seen anything even resembling what you discuss .. she was a little disappointed in me for even asking!

    The chapel is very well set up to accommodate every religion ... the upper floor is the Protestant chapel. The lower level houses Catholic and a separate Jewish and an All-Faith Room as well as a Buddhist room, which is relatively new - I believe it was finished in 2007 and I understand the cost was completely by donation. It is my understanding there is also a Muslim Prayer Room, though I have toured the chapel several times, both alone and guided by chapel staff, and I cannot place exactly where the prayer room is located.

    My D was raised in the church but also to be accepting of all peoples belief structure (or lack thereof). While it is possible that the pressures you outline do exist and she simply does not see it because she tends to be very accepting, I believe that it is more likely that the situation has been exaggerated. While I understand in years gone by there have been reports, which I cannot speak to the accuracy of, but currently it is my belief, and that of my D, that such does not occur.

    She said that during BCT church attendance is very large. The cadre do not bother the Basics during church, and D told me it is during church services that she began to see the "real person" behind the "cadre" (which helped her to gut it out through the more colorful moments of BCT). I do not know exactly what causes church attendance to be so high during BCT but can guess that church provided a peaceful place to be and was thus an attractant to even the non-religious. I doubt that there was external pressure to attend services during BCT but rather simply an increased yearning for a peaceful moment. I suspect this would be true at all the SAs. I cannot speak about USNA but my D has a very dear friend at USMA and she reported a very similar situation at West Point.
     
  6. RaptorDad2013

    RaptorDad2013 Member

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    If you are looking for additional input, go to http://www.usafacommunity.com/forum/ and post your question. The forum is exclusively devoted to the USAFA and I think you'll get a number of responses from both current parents of cadets as well as the cadets themselves. If your son chooses Air Force, the forum will give you a ton of info on all sorts of other topics too.

    Also, on the College Confidential USNA forums there was an extensive discussion about the noon meal mandatory prayer which discussed the broader issue of religion at the Academy. That would give you insight into the issue at Navy. Good luck!
     
  7. jscam87

    jscam87 Member

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    I hope you take advantage of the USNA weekend (CWE) visit and sleepover program to get a feel for the Naval Academy. I'm guessing that Air Force has the same thing. As much as we can say that the religious atmosphere is long past (if it was ever a widespread problem is debatable), I think you and your son will feel much better with a visit and asking the questions directly to the Mids and Cadets.
    Quick disclaimer. I'm a Navy Grad. The best school for your son will be the one he enjoys the most. If you visit Navy, however, the odds really swing to my team. It is a great place and has a great visit program.
    Congrats on your success! Please keep us posted to visits, choices, etc!
    Fair Winds...

    oh yea, and Fly Navy!
     
  8. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    For what it's worth; during BCT (Basic); my son went to buddest service, jewish, and something called "Free Thinkers"; just to have something to do and have some get away time. Since then, he has not gone to any type of church or religious service at all. It's just not his thing. He's never once had anyone ask him why not, or try to get him to attend. It's been a non-subject. Yes, in the past there were some issues. But that's not current. For what it's worth; as a family; we have a strong religious and conservative republican faith and political background. Yes, NEITHER of these topics or subjects have ever been presented to my son in discussion or in any means. Basically, both topics are 100% neutral. They're there if you want them and not if you don't. later... mike....
     
  9. mdanderson

    mdanderson Member

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    Attended a CVW in November--we were VERY impressed with USNA's deference to all religions, faiths and cultures.
     

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