Just_A_Mom, I think all these issues are interrelated in that they are, in one form are another, an invasion of the privacy of the midshipmen.
I certainly didn't get the idea that anyone felt as though there were there to provide 'entertainment' and it seemed the vast majority of people I met and talked with (both midshipman as well as visitors) truly understood the significance of their surroundings.
I cannot imagine what a visitor’s importance of the significance of their surroundings has to do with anything but as far as the midshipmen are concerned, I am positive that it is more resignation than acceptance. I am reminded of the story of the plebe who, several years ago, was rushing up Stribling toward Bancroft Hall where he was stopped by a woman wanting a picture of him with her young daughter. His reply was; “WTF lady, I have chow call in five minutes.” Even though she reported his name to the main office and he was “fried”, he became somewhat of a legend within the Brigade.
The times I have visited the USNA, anyone with a photo ID can get access to the grounds…..
Remember, we are in a war on terrorism. We have no idea where the next attack will be. USNA is most likely the only US military base in the world with this lax of security. Civilians cannot enter unescorted any of our other military war and staff colleges or our enlisted training facilities. Why should USNA be any different? Hopefully, Admiral Fowler, knowing the Navy’s sense of accountability, that he would be relieved immediately in the event of a terrorist security breach, will look long and hard at this policy.
Wearing a military uniform makes you stand out in a crowd, that's reality, whether on campus or off.
Being a movie actress causes Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, et al, to stand out in a crowd. Does the fact that midshipmen are constantly being observed in a fishbowl and having their pictures taken cause them to think they are something special? Does this, in turn make them think that they are maybe a little above what is expected as normal behavior, causing boorish behavior? We have certainly had more than our share of this type of conduct over the past few years.
There are many reasons to prohibit public access and unlimited photography in the Yard, especially during plebe summer. Many of the plebe summer evolutions require constant supervision, some are even dangerous. You cannot tell me that the cadre is not aware of photographers and has one eye out for their wherabouts, leaving only one eye for the events at hand.
There is a privacy issue. Sure, midshipmen relinquish some of this to USNA when they take the oath. However, USNA has a responsibility to uphold the tenets of this privacy. A private person is protected by law from having his picture published without his approval. There has been a lot of discussion about out-of-control parents on I-Day. How would you feel if I went up next year and took thousands of pictures of parents behaving poorly and, more important, capturing all those sad tear-laden private goodbyes and publishing them on the web?
Remember, we are in a war on terrorism. About half the class will select either aviation or special warfare. After graduation, at one of their first security briefs they will be told to guard their privacy, that in the event of capture, each and every thing that the enemy can gather from public records will be used against them. Numerous examples of Vietnam POWs will be given. Privacy is very similiar to honor. Once lost, it is extremely difificult to regain. Also, we do not know where the next terrorist attack will be. An attack on all the families of a Navy attack squadron's pilots would do wonders for morale, huh? Go to the Navy websites. They have completely sanitized their sites of critical names. Midshipmen need to be taught to zealously guard this privacy from the first day of plebe summer.
We aren’t training our future officers for the benefits of tourists. Security and the war on terrorism demands a relook at present procedures. Someone has to suffer. It will probably be tourists and parents.