No Facebook, No Skype, No food, No printers

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by norcalmom2014, Aug 3, 2010.

  1. norcalmom2014

    norcalmom2014 Member

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    I know this thread may offend some people, it is not my intention to do that but I am expressing what we have experienced so far at KP.
    We are hearing so many different versions of the rules all the time, from DS as well as from forums and the KP website/parent site that we are wondering if the powers that be are making clear to new plebes, the CTO's and DI's as well as parents what it really expects of everybody. We now understand that there is to be no facebook nor skyping at all, no food accepted in the mail to plebes, and that there are no printers (although a refund is coming -- I don't care about the money part) The most disappointing thing is that I often feel the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. We only learned about the printers via this forum, not through the academy at all. And the NCAA food list was posted here before the academy as well. It seems that the rest of the rules are sketchy at best because how the other things are handled seems to depend solely on each company's leadership, not a real hard and fast rule that applies to all students equally. It turns out I did send a box of goodies, before the "no-no" on the website, and it was taken away. Just wish I had known, wasted about $40 there, oh well. I hope someone ate the stuff. Other companies have been allowed to eat what has been sent though, so wondering about the big NCAA food list restriction.
    I am just the kind of person who, if told these are the rules and stick to them, I do. But, I am not seeing consistency in what KP wants their rules to be. Perhaps there isn't a clear mission here. I did expect more leadership from the leadership. Maybe I expect too much. I expected it to be more "military-like" if you will. But, I guess it is mostly an academy geared toward producing merchant mariners, rather than other branches of service. I do worry about it being the best place for our DS to achieve his military goals, I hope it is.
    It seems like some view it as the (I hope I do not offend here) "ugly stepchild" of the 5 academies. Why is this? It seems like it has the potential to be as good as the others but somehow has had some problems?
     
  2. dblomomkp2013

    dblomomkp2013 Member

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    A Personal Message

    norcalmom, I sent you a PM.
     
  3. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    I don't think your post will not offend anyone.

    This is what they mean when they say "Semper Gumby" and "welcome to the roller coaster"

    Yes, each company will operate differently. There will be some "overarching" rules that apply to all plebes throughout KP; however, there will also be more strict rules placed on some simply due to the personality of the company officer and midshipmen officers within that company. There also may be some differences by deck or even within the same deck as the leadership starts with a 3rd class team leader who overseas maybe 4 plebes.

    I understand the initial frustration, this is a very confusing time. The main reason for this is that your sons/daughters are very new and they will keep a very tight reign on them for the initial phase. Things will loosen up over time and everyone will eventually understand all the rules (written & unwritten alike). As to the printer issue: that was really outside of anyone's hands, and although you probably paid for it, in reality you paid it in the name of your son/daughter, so any refund will likely go to them. The same thing happens with travel reimbursement from getting to the Academy. This money, although you likely paid for it, will go to your child.

    Remember, above all else your children are now adults and off on their own adventure. Their grades won't come to you (they will in reality, but your children could technically revoke that) and if they get hurt you won't hear about it from anyone but them (unless it's serious and they're unconscious or something). I realize it's not the easiest, but the best thing to do at this point is to follow their lead. If they ask for something, send it (within reason obviously). They will know what is going on better than anyone and they may soon realize what they can get away with and what they can't.

    If you send a box to them at this point and it has food in it and it gets taken away it's because your DS/DD wanted to play by the rules and turned it in. Most will quickly learn there are hiding places in every room or they will take the box to a place on campus where they can enjoy it.

    Bottom line is basically this: the Academy knows what it's doing. It's been doing it since before WWII. Have faith and hang on for the ride, it's crazy. In the military every company and every squad has it's own personality based on the leadership and personalities of those among it. Same thing at KP. A second take home point is to not plan on hearing much from the school itself on any aspect of your child's education/training. (An extreme example of this happened probably 7+ yrs ago....details are sketchy so please forgive me: a 1st class midshipman was disenrolled not too far away from graduation. He did not inform his parents who arrived for graduation thinking they would watch their son graduate. Unbeknownst to them, their son had flown home while they were on their way and they arrived having no clue where their son was. An extreme example, but a pretty potent reality check of the new independence the midshipmen have)
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2010
  4. 2009KPer

    2009KPer Member

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    My $0.02

    The regimental stuff (approved foods, standards of conduct) can change every year, as each First Class is allowed (within reason) to set the standards of not only the upperclass, but the Plebe Class as well. You really can't look at another class' Plebe Year and say for sure that that is what the standards will be the next year. Some things may seem more restrictive, but really it's much more laxed now than it was even 10 years ago. Yes, each company tends to take on its own "personality". Some of this is a result of the midshipman leadership, other comes from the Company Officers - each who have their own varying backgrounds from ship's officer/ KP graduate to active-duty USMC servicemen. I have my own views of the hiring of and role of the CO, but that's another topic. In general though, trust KP in these matters. They can handle it just fine.

    Now, as for the IT policies, those are passed down from the DOT and the restrictions have become tighter each year. Facebook was not allwed my Plebe Year, then they let it through, then took it away then let it through again before I graduated. This is nothing new.

    Without opening a huge debate, I would say that this kind of experience is more what the military/government is like - bureacracy, layers upon layers of policies (sometimes contradictory) and inefficiency. No private company could operate in the way that most of the government does - they would go out of business. I think your son will see more efficiency and clear-cut policies when he goes to sea. I know my experience of getting paid for my AT reopened my frustrations with government/military administration (to be clear my gripe is more with administration, not the actual "boots on the ground" servicemembers). Unfortunately, this stuff is trickling down into every little part of government and KP is not immune from it.

    As for USMMA being the "stepchild", well, you wouldn't be the first to say that. One thing that you have to keep in mind though is that USMMA is under the Department of Transportation whereas the "Big 3" are under the Department of Defense. USCGA is Department of Homeland Security. You really can't compare the running of KP to, say, Annapolis as the two schools have different "bosses" and although some things that come from Congress effect all Departments across the board, others are handled at a lower level and have absoultely no effect on the other school(s).

    Also, ditto on everything that kp2001 said about the relationship between KP, your kid and yourself. They are adults now and barring an extreme medical case (and technically, they only have to notify the next of kin - not necessarily parents, if your kid filled out differently on his release form), KP itself will have very little contact with you as a parent.
     
  5. shutterbugC

    shutterbugC Member

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    Who said No Facebook? I thought the NCAA treats were just for football athletes and not everyone else? The printers? Well, that's government for you. No skype? They just want the computers to be secure and they also cannot have eternal memory hard drives or flash drives. We are trying to find other alternatives where you don't have to download a program. So far, we have found a couple. Tinychat.com and snapyap.com both are free. The first one is a chat room and don't know how to work it, the second is just for two people and that one is simple to use. Haven't used any of them yet with our DS.
     
  6. shutterbugC

    shutterbugC Member

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    I was told by my DS that they are threatened on taking Facebook away if the company as a whole makes less than a 2.5 GPA average. This is for 1st company and he didn't know about the other companies. I say, good for them! Maybe this will encourage them to study and not be on their computers all day when they don't have classes or something else to do.
     
  7. navig8r

    navig8r Member

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    Another $.02 worth......

    As a P/C parent I want to say a big thank you for the wisdom of KP2001 and 2009KPer.

    My personal experience was that I dropped my son off at college on July 8. But more than that, I let him solo. It’s kind of like flying, you can spend a lot of hours with an instructor in the air but the minute you lift off on your first solo flight, you know that there is absolutely nothing between that moment and the way you will eventually return to terra firma but the preparation you’ve had up to that point. My kid was ready. The preparation he had was sufficient that I knew I could drop him off and he could take it form there. I love him, I miss him, I support him totally and I trust him. Going to KP was something HE really wanted. It was nobody’s decision but his and I feel confident that he will do just fine – and he is doing just fine.

    Going to a service academy is a whole different animal. When I dropped off my son I basically turned him over the US Government. Be it Homeland Security, Dept. of Defense or Maritime Administration, he is now living in their world and playing by their rules and enjoying their benefits. The government has their “contract” (for lack of a better term) with my son – not with me. They owe me very little in terms of information. If DS had enlisted, I sure wouldn’t be expecting Parris Island to be updating me on my son’s progress or whether he was being issued what I think he needs. That may seem like an extreme example, but it’s not that far off. The report card is something he will have earned and he should see it first. There is nothing at all I can do about it and I’m sure he’ll share it with me, but this isn’t high school.

    It does appear that rules and privileges vary between companies. They vary between corporations, communities and families, as well. Maybe we should be looking at this as a good life lesson. The culture of entitlement does not always serve our children well and it’s not a bad thing to see that there are differences. During sea term I’m sure they will be seeing lots or differences in cultures, privileges and rules.

    The whole printer/flash drive/facebook/skype thing is what it is. Nothing much we can do about it from home and I’m sure it will all sort itself out. It will do all of us good to keep in mind that the whole civilian college experience is totally different. Although the students may be over 18, the colleges realize that mom and dad are going to most likely be the ones who maintain the financial responsibility for keeping that kid in that college for 4 years. It is in the college’s best interest to keep mom and dad very much in the loop about everything. We are (excuse the pun) in a whole different boat.
     
  8. wakefreek617

    wakefreek617 Member

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    "I expected it to be more "military-like" if you will. But, I guess it is mostly an academy geared toward producing merchant mariners, rather than other branches of service. I do worry about it being the best place for our DS to achieve his military goals, I hope it is."

    This IS an Academy geared toward producing Merchant Mariners above everything else. You can ask your DS about the mission statement they learned verbatim during Indoc.

    The pinnacle of a career at KP is the achievement of passing your Coast Guard license as a unlimited tonnage 3/e Engineer or 3rd Mate.

    If his military goal is in the Navy or Coast Guard, this school will prepare him well. If the goal is ground pounder USMC or Army, he can still go that route but realize above all this is a MARITIME academy. The fact that we have a Sea year (300 days on board commercial vessels) and the most capable and well-equipped waterfront in the country is a testament to that. I wish everyone on the hill took advantage of this...

    Hope that clears it up, ask any questions you like too!
     
  9. wakefreek617

    wakefreek617 Member

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    Also, DoIT is awful. Better get used to it now. None of the upperclassmen can use our external harddrives or USB drives either, which make backing up work and sea projects impossible. Unless your familiar with running linux from a CD ;)
     
  10. sdemedei

    sdemedei Member

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    navig8r, you hit the nail on the head with your post. Thank you.
     
  11. KP13Mom

    KP13Mom Member

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    navig8r~ You are my hero! Very well said. Kudos to KP2001 and 2009KPer as well. Carry on.........
     
  12. norcalmom2014

    norcalmom2014 Member

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    Thanks to all for giving me perspective on this!

    It is so great to read all these posts. They get me back on track with letting go of things I don't have control over. I particularly liked what wakefreak617, 2009Kper, and kp2001 said. I think it is good to air things in order to gain insights into this kind of academy, government, etc. Slowly, these things will all sort themselves out. Meanwhile, the good thing is that our DS is very happy and fitting in well. If he continues with his Marine Corps desires, then he will have to figure out how to be best prepared for that within the structure of KP. We believe it is possible from what we hear from others who have done it. Personally, I was hoping for the Naval route because he loves the waterfront, ships, etc. But, he also wants to fly. Who knows? They want to do it all at this age -- hats off to them for having dreams and seeking fulfillment. And again, something that has really hit home with me:
    SEMPER GUMBY!! I need this to be my new mantra. Thanks to all.
     
  13. wolfe834

    wolfe834 Member

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    We're all not cut throat, heartless pirates here...arrrr.....:eek:

    First off...on team communications, I'm going to lay that one on the Academy coaches. Sorry...but having been a coach and knowing college/NCAA requirements, your PC should have received a packet prior to arriving at the Academy. They should know what’s expected of them on the NCAA level; what’s expected from the coaches on a strength/conditioning level and what’s expected of them as a student athlete. If they didn’t receive a packet, it would have been nice to have at least received an email and a number to call if you have questions.

    Some coaches at the Academy are poor communicators..."And that's all I got to say about that!"

    Now, I won't beat a dead horse, but I'd like to say Navig8r hit the nail on the head when he made his comparison to Paris Island....dead on. As has been posted on other threads, there has to be a time to "Cut the Cord". Let’em go! Allow the Academy to mold them into future leaders. We don't see the reason behind saluting a squirrel...but they do. There is a reason to the madness...just wait and see. You will see soooo much a difference when you see you PC at parent's weekend....and if I'm wrong...I'll bow down to the powers that be and run nekid all along our forum :redface:

    As for communication...that has to be established between you and your PC. Mine...we were lucky to find out anything...in fact...we found out more about his "shenanigans" when we met with association parents who's PC did speak to their parents. The PC is bombarded with emails each day from the Academy and from his Cadre. It is up to them to pass this information onto you, as parents. They are now the 18-19 year old adults who are now in charge...we are just the "Parental Units" or “Cheerleaders” who stand on the sideline and shout words of encouragement.

    I can also say, as a parent of a daughter (who is in a 4-year party school on a 6-year plan, as my Ensign says) we are also limited on the information we receive from her school. We, as parents, are "granted" the permission to talk to school reps about grades and other issues ONLY because she is allowing us to by signing a line on a piece of paper...EVEN THOUGH I PAY THE BILLS!!!!...that chaps my butt...but she is an adult. Just try to get medical information on your 18 year old with HIPPA in play!

    Look...it hurts to cut them loose no matter where they go. But it's like the mother bird kicking their young out of the nest. She knows they cannot grow unless this process happens.

    Let'em go...Let'em learn...Let'em grow.

    :tank:
     
  14. zonker

    zonker Member

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    NorCal: At some point, all the P/Cs get a chance to examine different activities available at KP. Although I don't recall if that is available 1st Tri for them, there is a MarineOps program available ... a very dedicated group.
    Waterfront stuff is VERY broad, and very cool.

    Mission #1 for all of 'em: STAY ON TOP OF ACADEMICS.
    It's coming at them faster than at ANY other service academy.
     
  15. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    norcalmom2014:

    As noted I don't find your post offensive in the least. I do find it displaying what I think of as naiveté' and also exhibiting a little of the usual confusion that seems to be shared every year by many, though not all parents of midshipmen in the plebe class. That said the reason it's so often shared is there is no class for how to be a parent of a midshipmen, just as there's really no prep class for the entering PCs on how to be a Plebe Candidate at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy - the ability to adapt and get through the transition has always been part of the culling out process. The good news for our son's and daughters is that even if we parents fail at it, if they get through it, they still somehow usually manage to graduate and thrive. As someone who's been a midshipman at the USMMA and graduated some time ago, and who's been a parent of a Midshipman at the USMMA for the past couple of years I'll try and add my perspective in a helpful fashion to the already good posts by KP2001, 2009kper and others already good start.

    1) RE:
    As noted it is the United States Merchant Marine Academy, the name is definitely a reflection of it's primary mission and that is indeed its clear mission. There are far cheaper ways for the Department of Defense to produce an additional ~250 or so O-1's a year if that were the primary reason the U.S. Government operated the USMMA. Also if your son had other options such as USMA, USAFA, USCGA, and/or USNA; or a full ROTC Scholarship and his primary goal is to pursue a career as an active duty military officer, and his mind is entirely closed to the possibility of a Maritime Industry Career; then he may indeed have done both himself and the Academy (especially the spot he took from someone who may have been more open to such possible future career options) a disservice. The primary purpose of the USMMA is indeed to train and supply leaders to the Maritime Industry. That said, there are plenty of graduates who choose to go active duty and pursue careers in the military on active duty - in all branches. I don't know of any (and I know a lot of other graduates) who feel their training and preparation at the USMMA was such they found themselves less than fully well prepared, let alone feeling like anything similar to a red headed step-child.

    2) As far as the variance in the rules or application of them, that has always been an issue and subject of debate at KP. Going back for years, I graduated 28 years ago and it was an issue then. However, as noted by others, there are indeed some rules that are hard and fast and within those bounds the "local" leadership has the ability to tailor and apply their own interpretations and judgments to achieve the results they are expected to deliver. Isn't this what the real world is like? I can think of a litany of relevant examples ranging from a Captain and Chief Engineer managing their own merchant ship, to a General Manager in Industry running his/her Profit and Loss Center, to a Company/Battalion/Brigade/Corps or Army Commander in the Army leading his/her troops - all of which I feel would have a fairly wide array of "different versions of the rules" by at least some in the ranks accounts. The "greater" the distance in years from graduation I get, and the greater the level of responsibility I have in my career - the more I value the way the, then every perplexing, regimental system at the USMMA taught me to: i) be flexible; ii) take responsibility for my own actions and those under my leadership, and iii) take and use the full limits of the authority given to me with those responsibilities to both ensure my teams goals are achieved or exceeded and to reward those team members who best enable those achievements.

    Another item you mention is: "I am just the kind of person who, if told these are the rules and stick to them, I do. But, I am not seeing consistency in what KP wants their rules to be." Keep in mind the primary mission of the USMMA is to prepare people to be leaders in the Maritime Industry. The Maritime Industry involves a significant amount of various aspects of international business and trade. The interesting thing about rules and things like moral norms and traditions/expectations is they vary culturally around the globe. For example the "rules" for doing business in Middle Eastern countries vary to a fair degree from doing similar business here in the US. Learning how to sense and quickly adjust to situationally dependent "rules" is a big part of the training your DS will get both now during his Plebe Year and that will be driven home during his Sea Year.

    Another factor you might consider is you really can't fully see "what KP wants their rules to be" as you and I are seeing it all in short glimpses though places like this - an unofficial on-line meeting place, short conversations and interactions with our own DS, etc. So when things change for various reasons they are often larger events to us then they are to the Midshipmen. Think about how many things in our lives change every day. Not to make light of it but recently my usual coffee shop changed the menu so my usual, every morning purchase is no longer on the menu. Sure I was taken aback for a few moments ordered something else, didn't like it, ordered a third item the next day that is now my usual. In the end don't you think the things you are now wondering about: no printers so your DS will get a refund; no skype because of a revised DoIT policy read; no snacks allowed for plebes in your DS company, maybe or maybe not for facebook for your DS company; a lot like that. In a few days there will be another set of things that will come up and they may or may not really be annoying for our DS but are they really issues that should cause us to question whether or not the overall experience and training being given should be suspect? I know what I think, but each of us, particularly the midshipmen have to make their own judgment and decisions.

    I won't tell you it makes sense because that's the way it's supposed to be - frankly, if the USMMA or any of the other 5 service academies could really be that effective and deliberate with the "usual chaos" then everyone of those who graduate would be Goliaths at whatever they attempted. That said, I know that I've always felt the education and training I got while there is a significant reason I've achieved many of the successes I've had in the past 28 years. I also believe that the person my DS is today is much better prepared for the world he will be going out into in another two years, now than he was when we dropped him off for Indoc...

    Hang in there - it should all get easier as the next 47 months pass.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2010
  16. KPatKP

    KPatKP Member

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    navig8r

    Just fyi I happen to know that navig8r is a member of the finer species. :wink:
     
  17. kpmom2011

    kpmom2011 Member

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    Bravo Zulu to Jasper, KP2001, 2009, etc.......well said! If you need a pair of bolt cutters for the Iron Apron strings I'm sure one of us will let you use ours :yllol:

    On another note, regarding grades being sent to parents and the privacy thing. The Academy issued the following for the Parents Association to relay to it's members:

    USMMA used to send a hard copy of each grade report to all parents. For the plebes, we also sent a mid-semester grade report. The Academy should not be doing this because of FERPA restrictions. (USMMA is the only service academy that still does this; all other academies have stopped.) USMMA Policy Board decided to stop the current practice during their last meeting in March. So, we will stop sending out the hard copy grade reports in future.
     
  18. bcom

    bcom Member

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    As always,,,,,more of the usual USMMA drama
     
  19. Black Hawk

    Black Hawk New Member

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    I am coming to understand that the USMMA should not be "compete" against the service academies: they not only have a different boss, but a different mission, a different funding stream, different command structure, and are trying to produce a different product...to a point. When it comes to producing leaders (which means setting the example for good leadership), men and women of character and integrity, professionalism, attention to detail, pride, espirit, patriotism, etc....there should be no difference between USMMA, USMA, USNA, USAFA, and USCGA. There should, however, be every bit of a difference between the USMMA and a civilian school.
     
  20. jamzmom

    jamzmom Founding Member

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    Not sure I, for one, comprehend your post Black Hawk & the context. Don't know where the comparison should actually come from. They all serve in one form or another another. Takes a lot of wheels to make the world go round. I'd just like to say that this thread should probably go back on topic that the original OP intended? Just sayin'......

    bcom, if you're a KPer, it is what it is. If not, well........ I ain't touching that one with a ten foot pole.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2010

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