Congratulations VMI Class of 2012!!!


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5-Year Member
Dec 15, 2008
The rats broke out of the Ratline today, and the Corps of Cadets officially accepted them as a class. For those who are unfamiliar with this tradition, it's VMI's version of Recognition Day. It is the most physically and mentally demanding day of your life, and at the end, you're finally a cadet. More importantly, your ratmass is recognized as a class.

Until today, they were known as the ratmass of '09+3. They will be forever tied with my class, because we are their Dykes Class. The First Class when they were rats. The Dyke System is essentially unique to VMI, although Virginia Tech and VWIL have similar programs. Each First Classman gets 1-2 rats to mentor. They are the only upperclassmen that the rats are on first name basis with, and they offer some respite from the rigors of the Ratline. In return, the rats do a few chores for their Dykes.

Being a Dyke is very similar to being a parent. We are responsible for teaching and mentoring our rats, reinforcing the training they receive from their Cadre and teaching them the ins and outs to help them understand the intricacies of the Institute. If your rat gets a special report for an offense and has to go answer to a member of the Commandant's Staff, you have to march the special in with the rat. Just as I'll always be my daddy's baby girl, I will always see Bridget as my rat, even when we've both graduated and moved on to life after VMI. Just as I'll always be a member of the ratmass of '06+3 at heart, even though we have our rings and rats of our own now.

Anyway, the rats had an incredibly difficult Breakout today. They truly earned their place in the Corps. I am so proud of my rat, and the entire Class of 2012. They still have very few privileges. They can go uptown on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday nights now. They can listen to music, watch movies, play video games and use instant messenger now. They can put their hays down at noon and take naps in the afternoon. But they still can't have cell phones, they still have to be in proper uniform at all times unless they're in their rooms, they still can't loiter on the stoop or use the sidewalk closer to the academic buildings.

Breakout is only one aspect of how classes come together at VMI. You earn more privileges the longer you've been here as a class, not as individuals. You can also lose privileges as a class for failure to live up to the expectations of behavior for people of your stature within the system (Fourth Classmen, Third Classmen, etc.) This is called the Class System, which is completely independent of the Regimental System (ranks). As a First Class Private, I take orders from a Third Classman who's a Corporal whenever we go to formations. He has the authority to give me demerits for not shining my brass or shoes, or not ironing my shirt. But as a First Classman, I can send him up to the General Committee (our cadet government, which runs the Class System) for taking an upperclass privilege, making a fool of himself in uniform uptown, being disrespectful to a First Classman, or any other manner of inappropriate behavior. The class privileges are determined by the First Class GC officers.

As mentioned in other threads, the Class System is one thing that makes VMI very unique. The GC has the authority to penalize other cadets with confinement and penalty tours. We identify more with our class than with our companies. I'm very proud of Band Company, but I'm more proud of being a member of the Class of 2009. Right now, the new Fourth Classmen (at least the ones that haven't passed out!) are feeling the inexplicable euphoria of becoming the Class of 2012. They will never forget this day, or the bond they have with their Brother Rats because of the shared struggles they faced today, together, as a class.

To all the members of the VMI Class of 2012, welcome to the Brotherhood. We're so proud of all you have accomplished. You still have many miles yet to go before graduation, but you've made it this far. Well done, rat-ties. :smile:

Bruno, you have a lot to be proud of in your son, a member of the newest class in barracks.

Jackie M. Briski '09
First Class Private

A tremendous debt of gratitude is owed to the Class of 2009. My son's Dyke is wonderfully accomplished and respects and loves the Institute. His instruction/mentoring during the long, arduous process of transitioning a neophyte into becoming one of VMI's own is celebrated and appreciated.

Tradition and honor are hallmarks of the VMI system. The new cadets have certainly lived and exemplified the meaning of fortitude.
The rats broke out of the Ratline today, and the Corps of Cadets officially accepted them as a class. For those who are unfamiliar with this tradition, it's VMI's version of Recognition Day. It is the most physically and mentally demanding day of your life, and at the end, you're finally a cadet. More importantly, your ratmass is recognized as a class....

Anyway, the rats had an incredibly difficult Breakout today. They truly earned their place in the Corps....

Bruno, you have a lot to be proud of in your son, a member of the newest class in barracks.....

Jackie M. Briski '09
First Class Private

Thanks for a great post- I'm sure that there are a number of Moms, Dads, and prospective cadets who read this and are either motivated beyond description to get started with their cadetship, or are right now rethinking " do I want to go thru this" which is exactly the point of having an informational forum such as this. I am tremendously proud of my son and all of his "brother rats" (this is an all- inclusive term which covers both male and female cadets), and congratulate the class of 2009 on doing such an excellent job with the Rat line. And your point about being incredibly difficult is right on- I especially like the touch- having them do 2009 pushups during this resurrection week before Breakout even started certainly left them panting by the time breakout got underway - and it also gave them a number that they can throw around with gusto when the good natured flame wars with their peers at other institutions begin! I traded text messages this morning with a classmate of mine whose son is also in 2012- we agreed that Breakout sounded like it was a far better exercise - tougher and smarter than what we had done in 1977.
So Hooah to the VMI class of 2009 and wish I was there last night to hear the first "Old Yell" for the class of 2012!
Breakout is an extremely emotional event. You can't truly understand it unless you've experienced it yourself. My parents know that I love the Class of 2009, and that I wear my ring with pride. They remember reading the email where I described what we'd done for Breakout and how sore I was the next day. But I don't even both trying to explain what it was like to do our first Old Yell for our class on January 28th, 2006.

I'm not gonna lie, I cried last night when they were doing their Old Yell. I remembered the immense amount of pride after we broke out, and it all came rushing back. I thought about how hard our rats have worked and how well they've come together, and I didn't even bother trying to hide those tears. No one noticed them, but no one would have said anything to me about it anyway. And I know I wasn't the only one.

We have our dykeline running around the bezel of our class ring. 2006, 2009, 2012. To all the Fourth Classmen who are part of our legacy, live up to that. Make us proud to have put you on our ring. May you be better than we were.
Wow, great posts. Thanks for the update. Was it the 31st or today? I was wondering when the class of 2012 had their breakout date. I was hoping to see them still in the ratline so that I might be able to view it first hand and possibly get a glimpse of what I am in store for, but am sure I will gain valuable information this thursday from whomever my rat host is. One question, I was unsure of was in your first post RahVaMil09 was that I was under the impression from reading other posts and articles that the Rats after breaking out are afforded the luxury of their cell phone. I was just wondering exactly what privileges do the Fourth classmen receive?
Breakout was yesterday, the 31st. This is very cool, because it's in keeping with a dykeline tradition. They had the same exact number of days in the Ratline as their dykes and granddykes.

Class of '06: August 17th, 2002 - January 25th, 2003
Class of '09: August 20th, 2005 - January 28th, 2006
Class of '12: August 23rd, 2008 - January 31st, 2009

The Class of '03 broke out in late February, if memory serves. :smile:

As far as cell phones go, the First Class President decided today to give Fourth Classmen the privilege of using cell phones in their rooms only. Of course, this is only in effect until they start messing up and begin to lose privileges. :rolleyes:

My rat year was the first year anyone but Firsts were allowed to have cell phones. The Second Class ('07) received that privilege at Ring Figure (just before Thanksgiving). At that time, cell phones were regulated by the Commandant's Staff. Anyone but Firsts (and then Seconds) caught with a cell phone received an automatic 5-1-5 and the phone was confiscated until the next furlough, when the cadet had to bring it home and supposedly leave it there. My Third Class year, the Second Class ('08) got pretty torked off because my Class received our cell phone privileges after the rats ('10) broke out. Here's how it works:

1) If you're a rat, you got nothin'.

2) Thirds (and now Fourths) are permitted to have and use cell phones in their rooms only. It's convenient for ordering pizza or Chinese, but it sucks terribly when your roommate is fighting with a girlfriend/boyfriend while you're trying to sleep.

3) Second Classmen can use their cell phones in their rooms or on the second stoop (the second floor of barracks, where all Second Classmen live). This provides a little more privacy, but if you talk too loudly people can still overhear your conversation.

4) First Classmen can use theirs anywhere in barracks. It's very convenient to be able to go out into the courtyards in the middle of the barracks. Very private. And it's nice to be able to sit on the benches outside the Commandant's office. :smile:

5) No cadets are authorized to have or use cell phones outside of barracks. This includes academic buildings and any location off-Post while in uniform (and we're always in uniform in public, unless we leave Rockbridge County).

Here are the major changes from Rat to Fourth Classman:
-They don't have to strain or walk in the Ratline anymore
-No one can drop them for pushups anymore
-They can talk outside of barracks and academic buildings
-They can use cell phones (this is the first year this has been permitted), but only in their rooms
-They can watch movies, play video/computer games, use IM, listen to music and fraternize (be friends with) Seconds and Thirds
-They can go out on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday evenings, other than with family/host family
-They get one weekend leave, but must depart and return in grey blouse (this goes for spring break, too)
-They can date Seconds and Thirds, but not Firsts
-They can relax when they eat (as opposed to eating at attention and not looking at their food)
-They no longer have the fear of the Rat Disciplinary Committee (this is worse than it seems... instead of paying for infractions in sweat, they will now only get PTs and/or confinement from the General Committee)
-When we switch back to white blouse (summer uniform), they'll get to wear shoulder boards that have the VMI crest on them, as opposed to the plain grey shoulder boards of rats
-They'll be getting their white-on-black nametags soon, instead of their old black-on-white ones
-Soon, they'll get their Class patches for the left shoulder of their duty jackets (it says simply "12", as opposed to the company patches of other academies/SMCs... again, we identify with Class first, company second)
-They can put their hays down at noon instead of 11:15pm now

Here are some examples of Third Class privileges:
-Being improperly dressed on the third stoop only (they can still get demerits for this though)
-They don't have to march back up to barracks after meal formations
-Wearing bathrobe on the third stoop only (this protects them from demerits)
-Loitering on the stoop (eating, drinking, standing and talking for extended periods of time)
-Use of Marshall and Lejeune Arches (they can also use Daniels Arch, as of Breakout)
-They can leave for weekends/furloughs in civvies
-They can walk on the sidewalk closest to the academic buildings

I think that's pretty much it. Good questions... keep 'em comin'!

Keep it real,
Jackie M. Briski '09
First Class Private
Future Cadet

Im LJ Martin. i currently am a junior in Strasburg High School in Va. i am looking forward to attending VMI as soon as i graduate. i have read your article adn it all excites me. your first hand expiernces and words play a important role in influencing me. yor post showed me the more in depth to cadet life as a rat and fourth classmen and so fourth. my big question was, what is it like on matriculation day and overall your first full day at VMI?

LJ Martin
my big question was, what is it like on matriculation day and overall your first full day at VMI?
They will yell at you. A lot.

Actually, it's a little bit different every year. I don't want to give too much away (it's part of the experience), but I will tell you that there are all kinds of pictures and videos on the internet. This year it was very different from what I experienced my rat year. Who knows what it will be like when you matriculate?

It also depends a lot on your personality. I personally thought the whole thing was hilarious, but I probably had a warped sense of humor. As evidenced by the fact that, if I recall correctly, nine kids (out of 440-something) quit within the first five minutes.

VMI and the Ratline are what you make it. You can either let it get you down and give up on yourself, or you can rely on your Brother Rats to help you make it through. Keep your head down and you'll be all right.
I can recall my first Rat wakeup vividly- we had a "sweat party" at around 2300 in the main showers and then collapsed into our racks. The next morning at 0500 or so was a serious shock- imagine a cartoon of a cat being flung straight up into the air until its claws embedded in the ceiling hanging upside down. That's what that first wakeup felt like to me- I don't think anything I did in the subsequent 20 or so years as an Army Infantry officer were as rude a shock as that first morning . My room mate was so scared that he couldn't tie his boots and two of us had to do it for him. A lot has changed over 33 years but I have the interesting experience of seeing and hearing about the current Rat line from my son and the sons of a couple classmates of mine. It's different from my Rat year but as RVM2009 says: "they will yell at you. A lot". That was true in 1976 and it's still true now. You will do a lot of pushups- and get very tired before your first week is up. They won't however kill you, eat you or even put you at risk of dismemberment. You will just be very tired and very sweaty and kind of confused until you get some things figured out. And as my son pointed out to me in a letter after he been there for a week or so - what what you have to figure out is that despite the Cadre yelling at you to "hurry you are the last one out"- you are not the last one and what really matters is getting the important things done quickly but right. Once you get that down- it's all just noise trying to keep you off balance. After all- thousands of Rats have successfully gone before you so you too can survive and thrive!

Alot of what both of you have written is what i find in VMI as thrilling. not taking anything away from VMI, but as previously stated, my sense of humor as said by cadets i have met will help me greatly. Being i still have a year left of high school im am already now trying to prepare myself. i was always well fit. i have checked my self to the VPT and i exceed past the requirments. i have researched alot and have tried to contact many enrolled keydets through various ways as email and in person. all have given me great knowledge, but have done the appreciated thing and have left me short which i admire. my grades are top ten in my class and improving i currently reside with a 3.9 GPA so i am well within VMI standards. Mentally. i have played many physical sports in which great discipline is required, but i still have yet to expiernce what i expect at VMI. yet being a junior i can still only dream for one more year. thanks to you Bruno and First Class Private Jackie M. Briski
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After the rats have broken out, when do they generally receive their:

Crests for the shoulder boards
Black belts
Black name tags

Do they receive their plain shoulder boards when they are given all of their uniform items or is it something earned as a class?

Lastly, as you stated above, the rats receive one furlough. Is their a certain time frame for using it? Is it possible to a crude more furloughs?

first post from a VMI alum

Interesting stuff on here. I graduated from the Very Merry back in '99 (now a decade ago, which makes me feel incredibly old). The cell phone was still a relatively unheard-of entity in those days (and was pretty much verboten everywhere), and it wasn't until I was a first that we even had internet in the barracks. Anyway, when I was a rat-tie, the only electronic appliance in the room was an alarm things have moved along, I see. One thing I felt necessary to mention, and I have no idea if this is still true: You were not allowed to stand up and drink from a cup, glass, whatever while in the mess hall until your senior year. That means if you just were passing by and wanted a drink, you had to either take it from Club Crozet and drink it somewhere else, or had to sit down at a table and drink it. Doesn't sound like that big of a deal:but, I still remember that one.. even thirds and seconds couldn't stand up while drinking in the mess hall. For those of you heading to strain in the four walls, congrats, and get used to rules like that.
Can anyone describe or "paint me a picture" what the first few days at VMI from Matriculation Day through Hell week until you're first day of classes. Just trying to get an idea of what all happens.
Two words: organized chaos.

I think I would use a few descriptors: very stressful, tiring, deliberately disorienting. Suffice it to say that you will be embarking on an adventure in which you will have little or no control of your time & will be completely on someone elses timeline, agenda and rather arbitrary rules. You should expect to sweat, be sleepy and get a haircut and you will be eating faster than you can taste the food (which might be a good thing from what i have been told). On the other hand- you will not be eaten, nor will you be drawn and quartered.:rolleyes:

Life is full of surprises- this will be one. Just go there in shape with the absolute determination that you are not going to quit because you know that everything ends and the whole point is really a self test- and quitting means you failed the test. (My definition of quitting is leaving short of the end of the school year- if you get to the end of your Rat year and decide you don't feel like continuing- well thats just making a change based on experience and your preferrences.) Like most things- this challenge is more about mental preparation - almost anyone can succeed as long as they are determined to do so- but go in there without the right mindset and you probably will be gone before your initials are on your hay roll.
One word of caution that I have given to several kids who I have recruited for VMI: You are not enlisting. VMI is first and foremost a college -not just the military system and you need to keep in mind that you not only have to go thru the Rat line- you have to do so while you are a successful college student in a rigorous academic environment governed by an all encompassing honor code with a "1 strike and you are out - no exceptions" policy . Success will be to negotiate the entire package- military, academic and athletic. It's a demanding journey that you are embarking on- good luck.
Here's the best advice I can think of to give you about surviving the first 9 days of your cadetship: look for the humor and you will find it in the most unlikely of places.