No More Alcohol

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by SeaMars, May 1, 2012.

  1. SeaMars

    SeaMars Member

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    Just heard from cadet son that the Firstie Club and Cow Club will no longer be serving alcohol, and that cadets over 21 will no longer be allowed to drink alcohol on post. [Plebes and those under 21 prohibited from drinking already.] No word on whether the bars in Highland Falls will be off limits. No alcohol, no landlines in the rooms, and no more tablecloths in the Mess.
     
  2. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    The tablecloths in the mess was a weird change we all noted last week. I wonder what the impetus was. As for the landlines, it makes sense. They were way more trouble than they were worth, and the days of landlines period are going away.

    As for the alcohol, it's true, at least for now. I spoke to my buddy who's a Tac in 1st Regiment. Apparently 3 firsties ended up in KACH last weekend after a drinking binge. The Supe apparently has had enough for this year.
     
  3. hawk

    hawk ButterBar Dad

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    The alcohol thing was brewing for a while apparently. The memo does not mention highland falls:

    Purpose: To outline alcohol restriction for all Cadets and Cadet Candidates assigned to the United States Corps of Cadets and the United States Military Academy Preparatory School.

    Prohibition: Effective immediately and until further notice, the consumption or possession of alcohol is prohibited for all personnel listed above while win the grounds of the West Point Military Reservation, to include training areas.

    Exceptions: the only authorized exception to this policy in the consumption of alcohol as part of an officially recognized religious service, in accordance with AR 600-20. All other requests for exception to policy may be submitted to (name, position, at phone #).

    The table cloth change was mentioned in a DCA briefing last month, they are trying to maximize the $11/day they get per cadet and focus it on better food.

    There are other changes mentioned which are already in place or expected. Nothing huge, but they do represent a sea change. The observation was made that we are probably moving back to an environment similar to the 80's in terms of retention related programs, acceptable attrition figures, etc.
     
  4. America's Finest

    America's Finest USMA Cadet

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    The alchohol ban is meant to be temporary, at least as of now. It was implemented until an acceptable course of action can be submitted to the Superintendent on how to integrate alchohol into the Corps. Of course, the course of action may very well be to keep the current ban.

    This happened at the same time they stopped setting the tables for us. Although they never released anything official about it, it's understood it had to do with budget cuts and having less personnel/hours.
     
  5. Hooah1775

    Hooah1775 Member

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    Hawk - Excellent insight!

    Can you explain more about ...back to an environment similar to the 80's? Do you mean high attrition rates and less retention programs?

    Thanks!
     
  6. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    I find it interesting that you are accessing memorandums for which you were not on the distribution line...

    I'm interested as to your insights on West Point in the 80s. Which class are you?
     
  7. SeaMars

    SeaMars Member

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    A copy of the memo was apparently provided at the parent club rep briefings, as well as to all cadets.

    Tablecloth savings are supposedly $200k, and the loss of one tiny bit of civilization.

    And Hawk does say "the observation was made" - sounds as if he's quoting from someone else?
     
  8. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    The tablecloth made such a great napkin!
     
  9. hawk

    hawk ButterBar Dad

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    That memo is currently available on a non-USMA website as well as being quite widely circulated by grads, cadets, etc. As mentioned, it's in the hands of parents clubs as well. If it's inappropriate to share, then I'll ask a mod to edit my post. It has no security restrictions, and is relevant to the question, Highland falls was not mentioned. I've asked a mod to delete the memo wording from my post

    To your question about the 80's, that was not my comment, it was an observation made by a senior USMA staff member, (80's grad), and echo'ed by a 90's and early 2000 grad, also USMA staff.

    It was specifically discussing the impact of Army's RIF'ish mode and it's impact on USMA, which is what I was referring to. Specific programs were mentioned as likely changing or going away, primarily retention related. Higher allowable attrition was also mentioned, along with tougher enforcement of standards. Which is already being seen by cadets. The same senior staff also stopped a 70's grad down in his tracks when he started a "the corps has" comment.... I wanted to applaud, as his response was sobering.

    If this type of information in general is not relevant or on topic, then it's easy, I'll stop sharing it. It's not something USMA is shy about, it came from USMA briefings and was intended to be shared with parents of cadets and incoming cadet candidates. Briefings came from every top level USMA branch (DMI, DCA, Admissions, Dean's office, Athletics, etc), and was for the most part not lower level staffers. Yes, I was impressed they took the time, and at the candor.

    Along the way we learned many useful things- the different types of honor boards, impact on permanent records, guidelines on emergency leave, upcoming changes to curriculum, etc. Where all the WP AOG money goes, that was a mystery, and it was a good answer.

    We'll be briefing our state's parents, and interested parties in adjacent states who were not able to attend. We were encouraged to shared the presentations & notes. We'll position as being accurate this year, but not gospel going forward. We'll have to wait for next year's briefing.

    To pretend USMA is static is naive, we are learning that info has a shelf life. It drifts. What was gospel two years ago may only be directionally accurate this year. And could be totally wrong in 3-4 years. We see it in buckets on this forum, which is one of the reason USMA Pub Affairs is opening the info tap a bit. Lot's of stale info out there.

    Personally, I discount all information about USMA policy & life not coming from USMA itself as of interest, may have been true at one point, but very likely not accurate now. Even our grads (we have many actively involved in the club) are also acknowledging this aspect.

    So that's the source. Just a parent club rep, who pays attention in USMA briefings for parents, parent clubs and FFR. No more or no less.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2012
  10. RockyB

    RockyB Member

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    Please, keep sharing!
     
  11. SeaMars

    SeaMars Member

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    Ditto!
     
  12. hawk

    hawk ButterBar Dad

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    Mess Hall changes

    With all respect due to someone like you who has to eat there every day, based on multiple briefings, there were no budget cuts. :smile: There were many changes you are seeing & living, which thankfully most of us do not have to!

    Specifics: The cadet dining budget remained steady for AY11-12, and was an increase over previous years. I want to say it went up almost 30% either this year or last, would need to check my notes. And some signs it will increase again for next year. (see Source below)

    What they are doing is redirecting their budget to try to improve variety & quality. Which is not a bad thing. Let's explore some of these....

    The tablecloth expense came out of the current $11/day cadet budget. Eliminating it allowed them to spend more on the food, which they did. You are getting fresher pseudo-Egg now because of that change!:thumb:

    Just one specific example: Salad bar change
    • Reduced waste of uneaten salads on table (cost of buying the food)
    • Reduced preparation & serving costs (Reduced servers, direct labor reduction)
    • Reduced waste disposal ($75/ton)

    I heard the savings figure on this one change, it was a big number.

    That savings was directly applied to fresher materials and increased variety on the bar over the previous fixed servings.

    So where did the money go? Increased fresh content vs processed/canned foods. Eggs were universally reviled, and they were able to go to a more expensive Egg approach, which per surveys are much preferred. (But may still suck, who knows).

    So no budget decrease. In fact, they are expecting/hoping for another bump for AY12-13.

    So why are cadets still complaining? Some of it is the nature of the beast, it's a dining hall with institutional food.

    Some of it is changes from the regular Army mandated diet guidelines. And as the head honcho described it: "Your kids at home would rather eat pizza, hot-dogs and icecream everyday, would you allow it?".

    All that said, my cadet commented: "that sounds good in theory, reality is they don't serve butter with biscuits because it goes over the dietary guideline. Then they serve butter at lunch when there is nothing to put it on, but they had room in the calorie allowance. But then again, it's the Army, what do you expect".

    So maybe some of this is propaganda. But it looks to me like they are trying hard.

    Other interesting tidbits:
    • All profit from Grant hall goes back into cadet dining budget and is used to try to improve the diet quality
    • They price compare sandwich cost and meat content for Grant hall vs local competitors. Only subway is cheaper, and they have half the meat, and it's not Boar's Head. (He had notes on this!)
    • Same for Pizza's price/quality at Grant Hall
    • The keep dining hall staff to cook so they can control quality, but outsourced servers as they can float the number required with 36 hr notice, thus further reducing labor costs. Which allows more for actual food purchase (¿Puedo tener algunos mantequilla más por favor?)
    • USMA has a greater challenge than nearly every other Army chow hall in that they cannot prepare upon demand, they server more at the same time than any other facility. So yes, you may be able to get a perceived better meal in A'stan on an AF or Army base because of that fact.

    Source: Notes from April 2012 briefing by LTC Messit, DCA USMA
    Budget figures also presented in other USMA briefings in March


    Editorial comment from other USMA MAJ & LTC's present: When compared with the RA mess halls, it's not the worst, nor the best. About average. With all of them being impacted by the dietary guidelines. Garrison food will be less flexible in general than ordering what you want.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2012
  13. mmb5

    mmb5 Member

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    So our cadets will be able to teach their grandmothers to suck eggs?

    Sorry. But thanks, Hawk, that is great information. There's a Mess hall FB page, and it sounds as if they are indeed trying.
     
  14. hawk

    hawk ButterBar Dad

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    From what we heard, the old eggs may have dated from your grandmother's time!!!

    I've only eaten in D'hall a few times, and I compare it to Marriott food for corporate events. Rarely outright bad, rarely outright good. And often not my first choice.

    We won't talk about the guy getting the award from the D'hall facebook page.

    But they have specific examples where input from the page & surveys resulted in changes. And the caveat that most cadets are not bothering, so they can't act on what they are not told.

    And in some cases, decisions made based on feedback are not liked by other contingents. It clearly can't be all meat & potatoes. Or Pizza. Nor all salad/veggie.

    Likewise, I'm less inclined to be critical of Grant Hall now compared to Slades, Main Street Market, etc.

    All in all, I thought it was useful info, they are clearly trying, and I understand a bit more of their challenge now. Kudo's to USMA for at least sharing this information!
     
  15. America's Finest

    America's Finest USMA Cadet

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    For some reason, they don't tell us Cadets this information. They just took our table cloths away one night when budget cuts were big talk so it's what a lot of us thought. They've also been serving "healthier" food and getting rid of (well, technically replaced with healthier fruit desserts) dessert.

    Very informational! :thumb: If only they told us these things...
     
  16. hawk

    hawk ButterBar Dad

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    Understood, and apparently universal... In the rare event we hear from our cadet, and ask about something we usually get the same answer: "Dad, I'm a plebe, they just don't tell us that type of thing"

    The poor information flow to cadets was another topic of discussion with the TACS... their view was some of it was life in the Army. And some is on the TAC's, they admitted like in all things, some are better than others. But much is imperfect cadet Chain of Command communications.

    When asked about the later, their answer was that the TAC-NCO's could have communications running perfectly in under a day. But they are not having cadet CoC due to labor constraints, it's to have cadets learn how to lead & communicate. And that incurs learning lessons. And if that means plebes and yuks are sometimes in the dark, then that in itself is a lesson for when it's their turn in the saddle.

    They then followed up with the comment that anything truly important was broadcast to all cadets directly and did not flow through CoC. Some specific examples were discussed.

    It was an interesting answer, which also applies to squad leaders during BEAST, etc. For most it's their 1st real leadership position beyond team leader. And they are learning just like the new cadets.

    You cadets can comment on how effective that is, as it's your world.

    Back to chow, I'm sure there are powerpoints with all the rationalization, figures, improvement figures, etc. I've seen some. But at the end of the day, you still have to eat it, it still won't be perfect, and there is always boodle & Slades! Or as one TAC stated, he can get pretty much anything he wants at the Market in HF, and they deliver.
     
  17. Pokanoket

    Pokanoket New Member

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    I thought it was going to pay for the next GSA Convention in Las Vegas. :wink: Good to know it's actually mostly a redirection of the $$ to other areas. Thanks for the info hawk.

    And as a non-drinking 18 yr old, I'm not yet directly affected by the closing of the clubs on campus, but it would be nice to know that it is a temporary change by the Superintendant, designed as a warning shot against future mischief. Certainly a good way to make a point for the future. I may end up being thirsty once or twice a few years from now, and would like to know there's a safe and local alternative to venturing off to NYC or elsewhere.

    :beer1:

    .
     
  18. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    My guess is that no alcohol at the Firstie club will be short. As my guess is that the Firstie Club generates a decent profit.
     
  19. TheKnight

    TheKnight Class of 2014

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    As hawk said, budget redirection was a huge problem with it.


    Cadets always complain about something. My personal problem with the mess hall is that it is run so inefficiently. As nice as it is, it simply isn't cost-effective to feed us all at once. It requires a greater number of staff and it requires certain decisions to be made that directly affect the quality.

    While tradition might dictate that we keep the same family-style meals that West Point has had for so long, common sense and efficiency don't necessarily agree.

    What is annoying is to hear someone say "We did X because we care and want to have more money to spend towards food quality" when the major changes that could be made and could have a greater impact aren't being made in the name of tradition.
     
  20. buff81

    buff81 Moderator

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    Wow !
    You are a much better note taker than I am.
    Mine from that briefing are not NEARLY as detailed.
    Can I borrow your notes? :shake:
     

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