The Horror of the Ratline

March 13, 2015 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges

Matriculation Day

Matriculation Day

When I graduated high school I never believed that I would have been through what I have been through to this date. I knew I wanted a military college experience and that is exactly what I got. I thought I had my life planned out and that I was going to be an Army officer in four years. And now looking back….I could not have been more wrong.

For starters, I knew when I got to VMI (Virginia Military Institute) on that hot day in August of 2011, that the next four years were not going to be easy and I knew the first year was going to be the hardest and most challenging obstacle I was ever going to face… and it certainly was. However, I didn’t know how traumatic it was going to be nor did I know that the next four years were going to challenge me in different ways.

The first year at VMI is known as your rat year. The ratline was definitely the most traumatic experience I have had in college. It challenges you physically, mentally, and emotionally and most people do not make it through. It is a system that breaks you down in order to build you back up. The first week itself is very rigorous because you get little sleep, you PT (physical training) a lot, and you are constantly getting yelled at by your cadre. You are made to think and feel that you are at the bottom of the totem pole and that you are actually a rat. Additionally, you are made to walk a certain way in barracks and eat a certain way in the mess hall and the funny thing is, is that these did not even surprise me. I knew I had signed up for it and had even seen it at another military college I had visited.

The thing that shocked me the most was the lack of respect they had for females that attended the school and the maturity level of the so called “men” that the institute is so keen on producing since 1839. Surprisingly, during the ratline I only had one instance of where I was treated rudely because I was a female and other than that I didn’t notice a lack of respect of the other young women. I think that is partly due to the closeness of the entire rat mass (otherwise known as all the freshmen). The lack of respect for the women that attend the school doesn’t so much occur from your own classmates, at least during your first year because you are all going through the same tormenting process of getting through the ratline. However, once the ratline is over is when everyone goes their separate ways and makes judgments of one another and thinks that women don’t belong at the school.

This is the sad and frustrating truth that I honestly had no idea would happen when I came to VMI. I figured it was the 21st century and women can do the same thing as men and they wouldn’t care as long as I proved myself that first year, which I did. And I am not saying all guys at the school think that women don’t belong there, but there are some that do, which to me shows a lack of maturity and thus why my four years at VMI have felt more like a high school than a college.

As it goes, I have two months left at VMI and I decided that I did not want to commission into the Army as I had originally planned when I had decided to attend. I know I want to be treated with respect for the woman I am and even though it wasn’t exactly as I had expected, I know that I have made it this far and I don’t have to prove that to anyone.

Clubs at VMI

March 5, 2015 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Sports


If you decide to attend the Virginia Military Institute you should know right away that your time is very limited, especially your first year. During your first year you don’t really get the option to join many clubs since they keep you pretty busy with other activities. However, once you complete the first six months of your first year you can join just about any club you want! There are a variety of different types of clubs, so you can choose anything that suits your fancy. The clubs range from academic, to theater, to sports clubs and there really aren’t any bad ones that are looked down upon, because if there were the school wouldn’t allow us to have them.

So to start off with the more academic side of things these are your options.

American Chemical Society

American Society of Civil Engineers

American Society of Mechanical Engineers

Economics and Business Association

Cadet Investment Group

English Society

Honors Forum

Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers

International Relations

Pre-Law Society

Society of Physics Students

Tau Beta Pi

These options give you a range of different groups that you might like to join, especially if there is one that is also your major.


Next are the club sports. If you don’t want to participate in sports as an NCAA athlete, then these are a great alternative.

Basketball (Men’s & Women’s)


Rugby (Men’s & Women’s)



Field Hockey




Ice Hockey

Trap & Skeet








Water Polo (Men’s)




Next are the publications clubs that you can be a part of. If you like to write and/or take pictures then you can either join The Cadet Newspaper or The Bomb, which is our yearbook. Both are cadet run publications and are looking for writers and photographers all the time.


Next are the special interest groups. These range from a variety of different interest and thus why they are called special interest.

Acoustic Guitar

Android/iphone App

Ballroom Dance

Big Red

Civil War Roundtable

College Republicans

College Democrats

Eagle Scouts

Fishing Club

Knitting and Crocheting

Marksmanship Club

Recycling Club

Scuba Club

Soaring Club

Yell Leaders


The military clubs are next and as you might have guessed revolve around the military, so if you are really motivated and Hooah about the military then you might want to consider joining one of these clubs.

Armed Forces Aviation

Arnold Air Society

Association of the U.S. Army

Cadet Battery


Marshall-New Market Battalion

Ranger Challenge

Semper Fi Society

Tanker Platoon

Trident Society

Special Actions Detachment



The religious clubs are next. So if there is a specific denomination that you follow then there just might be a club for it as well that meets on a weekly basis! Check the list below.

Baptist Student Union

Canterbury Fellowship

Fellowship of Christian Athletes

Lutheran Student Union

Newman Club

Officers Christian Fellowship

Presbyterian Campus Ministry

Religious Council

United Methodist Christian Fellowship


If you are really interested in public service then you might consider joining or participating in the many service clubs that are available. These include the following:

Blood Mobile

Cadet Program Board

Cadet Recreation Committee

Emergency Response Team


International Club

Search and Rescue Squad

Timber Framers

Engineers Without Borders


Last and certainly not least are the music and theater clubs. Here is the wide variety that we have available.

Commanders jazz ensemble

Glee Club

Herald Trumpets

Men in Grey a cappella group

Pipes and Drums

Progressive Music Club

Brass Ensemble

Regimental Band

Timmins-Gentry Music Society


So overall, no matter what your interests are there are tons of choices for clubs and if we don’t have what you like then you can always start one yourself! However, I think you can find at least one that can occupy the rest of your time at the I.

The Many Uniforms at the Virginia Military Institute

August 14, 2014 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges, Style

When it comes to style and dress code, that is one of the main things that differs from a civilian college and a military college. You won’t find students wearing pajama bottoms or yoga pants at V.M.I. Instead, you’ll see students in clean cut military uniforms. However, we do have different styles of uniforms for the seasons and special occasions.

Here are the different styles of uniforms you will find cadets in throughout the year.

1. Summer Uniform: This uniform is what we wear on a daily basis from when we return to school in August to about the end of November. We also go back to this uniform around March until we leave in May. It is an all-white uniform, unfortunately, with a white blouse, white slacks with a belt, a hat (we call it a cover), and black shoes, and bears a striking resemblance to a milk or ice cream man. This outfit is pretty much our ‘casual’ attire. We wear it to class, into town, and to meals—excluding dinner, but you only wear the cover outside. When it gets colder you are allowed to wear a black jacket with it called a duty jacket.

VMI Cadet Uniform

VMI Cadet Uniform

2. Gray Blouse: This uniform is what we wear to dinner, more formal occasions, like for a speaker and into town during the winter. It is a dressier uniform and looks exactly how it sounds. It is a gray blouse with a white collar and white cuffs and we wear it with our white slacks, except during the winter when we wear it with our wool slacks. We also wear white gloves with it during the summer season and black gloves in the winter. It is extremely uncomfortable and hot because it is made out of wool and very restrictive and hard to move in.  When it gets exceedingly cold in winter we wear a wool overcoat with it.

Gray Blouse

Gray Blouse

3. Coatee: This uniform is what we wear during our weekly parades and for very fancy events, like a ball. It is worn with high wasted white slacks—different than our everyday ones. It is made out of wool like the gray blouse and has rows of buttons all over the front of it. It also has white cuffs and a collar like the gray blouse.  This is what the guys wear at a ball or dance. The girls have the option of wearing a short or long white skirt with it instead of the slacks depending on the occasion but everyone wears the slacks with it during parade.



This uniform is also accompanied by other pieces during a parade. We wear white straps across our shoulders in the form of an X, with a brass plate in the center, and a white belt with a brass buckle; and attached in the back above the butt is a little cartridge box. Additionally, we wear white gloves and a hat called a shako. We are transformed into little toy soldiers.  However, during winter parades—the few that we have—we wear the gray blouse with the overcoat. We also wear the same accessories like we wear with the coatee with the exception of the shako and white gloves. Instead we wear our everyday hats and black gloves.

VMI Coatee with Accessories

VMI Coatee with Accessories

4. Winter Uniform: This uniform is worn from the end of November till about the end of February or mid-March. It is our winter casual attire because we wear it to class and meals—excluding dinner, just like our summer uniform, but we aren’t allowed to wear it into town. It consists of wool slacks, which are extremely uncomfortable so I recommend wearing long johns underneath, and a long sleeve black blouse, with the shoes and hat like the summer uniform. You are also pretty much wearing the duty jacket with it too and black gloves because it gets so cold.

Winter Uniform

Winter Uniform

5.  P.T. (Physical Training) Uniform: This uniform is what we wear when we work out. It is pretty basic with a gray t-shirt and red shorts with V.M.I written on them. When it gets colder we wear black pants and a gray sweatshirt over them and if it is extremely cold we get to wear a black cap and black gloves too. When it is raining we wear the black pants and a windbreaker over the shirt and shorts.

PT Uniform

PT Uniform

Additionally, athletes are allowed to wear their team uniforms if they are working out as a team in the weight room or during practice.

6. A.C.U.s (Army Combat Uniform): This uniform is worn with your respective military branches and when it gets nasty outside because of snow or rain so it doesn’t mess up our other uniforms. Since our school is primarily an Army school, this is why we wear the army uniform. It is just like what you see regular soldiers wear with the digital fatigues, blouse, and cap with tan colored boots.



7. Miscellaneous Uniforms: These uniform items are just random pieces we have to wear or can choose to wear for different occasions. When it rains, we have to wear a rain cape over our everyday uniform so it doesn’t ruin them. These capes look ridiculous because they make us look like Dracula. Also we have to wear a plastic cover over our hats so it doesn’t damage the wool. These are known as, what the guys call condoms. Boys…they never grow up.



On a different note, during football season, athletes are allowed to wear their letter sweaters with the white slacks during the football games. It distinguishes them from all the other students and kind of makes them feel special—at least I think so, but I’m biased since I get to wear one.

Letter Sweater

Letter Sweater

Additionally, we have a red polo shirt with the V.M.I logo on it which we wear on rare occasions—hardly at all. It is mostly used for sports teams when they travel, but they normally wear their own traveling gear. However, the cadets who are part of helping the freshman cheer during football games wear the red polo with their white slacks, but other than that nobody else really does.

And lastly, during basketball season if you purchase a Big Red t-shirt, you are allowed to wear it during the basketball games with your white slacks. It’s a way to show team spirit.

Big Red Shirt

Big Red Shirt

Overall, the uniforms are pretty much straight forward. You wear what you are told, but that’s what the military is all about. At least I don’t have to worry about picking out my outfit every day or impressing anyone since we all look the same. Unfortunately, the guys do pull off the uniform better than the girls since they are made for men, but I can still rock the white skirt and blouse. Nevertheless, when I do get to put civilian clothes back on I feel so much better because I get to express my personality and actually look more like a girl!

White Skirt

White Skirt