So since I have been here at the academy, I have noticed that dipping is a common occurrence and have been pressured many times to dip. (including people willing to pay me $100 to even try it). I have never felt compelled to try it. My question is, if there are any upperclassmen on this forum who can answer this question, why do people get into dipping after a year or two at the academy even though they never dipped previously? My other question is pertains more towards combat arms branches (Infantry to be specific). Would a platoon leader lose respect because he/she does not dip or drink? I have never been interested in any of those things and I find them rather gross. I have been told that if I want to go combat arms that I will lose respect if I do not dip. Any insight is appreciated. Thank you!
You already know the answer to this. If this practice was a leadership practice to be desired, there would be books about it, case studies, visiting speakers, mentions of it in Commissioning Day speeches and an endowed chair at a service academy.
It's a personal choice. Without being judgmental, you can simply say "no thanks." Smile and walk away. Change the subject. If they pressure you, ask why they are pressuring you, if you're in the mood to take them on. Develop some answers that suit your personality, perhaps with humor. "No doubt after my first combat patrol I'll come looking for you to borrow some, thanks, but not now."
When the going gets tough and dangerous, your future troops will respect you and follow you for leading them with confidence, looking after their needs, being fair and approachable, setting an example of sticking to your principles and many other tried-and-true leadership practices and traits.
In a high-stress combat zone, human beings do turn to comforting or stimulating habits whose life-threatening aspects pale when compared to, say, going out on patrol in a hostile area. I cannot criticize that. Everyone figures out what works for them.
I am far removed from the current cadet answers you are hoping for, but I have long experience with people applying pressure to conform. I applaud you for having made your choices and stuck to them. When I was in college at a time when it is often declared, "oh, everyone did drugs or tried weed back then in college," I can honestly say I didn't. I ran into the same kinds of pressure. I just smiled and said "yep, I am a total chicken, you go ahead and have fun." Ditto the whole cigar thing at formal Navy dining ins or outs. I have never even tried to smoke one (Dad's emphysema cured me of any desire). I brought Mrs. See's Candies chocolate cigars and enjoyed myself without making a big deal out of it. I credit my parents with teaching me how to think and act for myself, and to resist pressure gracefully. I certainly made my share of low impulse control bone head choices, though.