Cadre not compensated
A controversial topic for years at Norwich is whether freshmen cadre should be compensated like civilian students' residential staff.
"A lot of people have always debated (this issue)," said Maj. Kristine Seipel, a member of the Vermont State Militia and the presiding housing officer and adjutant at Norwich. "It's not the first time that this has been brought up."
The corps of cadets and civilian students have lived and worked together for 20 years. "Our leaderships definitely work together," said Iphagainia Tanguay, the director of residential life. "Our staff fosters those times that we can work together."
According to Tanguay, the civilian dorms South Hall and Crawford Hall are each headed by a residential coordinator (RC) and an assistant residential coordinator (ARC). Each floor has one or two residential advisors (RA) depending upon its size; there are about 30 students per RA.
The role of a cadre member in the corps, and that of a RA, RC or ARC, are comparable in purpose and position within their lifestyle.
"The role of an RA is multifaceted," said Tanguay, who had been an RA in college. "It certainly is student leader, it's role model, sometimes it's social director or educator."
"Basically what I do is I ensure first and foremost the safety of my residents on the floor," said Giavana Di Giorno, a 19-year-old sophomore psychology major from Dallas, Texas, and an RA in Crawford Hall. Di Giorno mainly works with freshmen, including lifestyle transfers from the corps.
In addition to planning a required three optional events for her floor per semester, Di Giorno has other duties. "I am the disciplinarian on the floor so I ensure that they aren't getting too rowdy, and are doing their studies, and to get them through college in a positive manner."
According to Derek Radtke, a 19-year-old sophomore communications major from Wesley Chapel, Fla., who is an RA, each member of the residential staff is required to rotate certain duty shifts throughout the week. Residential staff patrol the buildings from 7 p.m. to midnight on weeknights and Sunday night, and from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Within the corps, cadre staff fill similar positions of authority over either upperclassmen or first-year corps students. A military cadet chain of command is accountable for freshmen cadets. This staff is responsible for the training and well being of an approximately equal number of students as an RA.
"I define cadre as a big brother/big sister mentoring thing. It's going to teach the future leaders of America how to lead correctly," said Vinny Christiano, a 21-year-old junior criminal justice major from Andover, Mass., who is a freshman cadet staff sargeant. As a cadre member, "you are the example and you are supposed to be the definition of the corps of cadets."
Cadre members do not receive monetary compensation. RAs do.
"I get a thousand (dollars) off the room and board portion of tuition every semester. There is a stipend of $800 spread out over the year and the biggest perk is getting a reputation around campus," Di Giorno said.
"I did not know that (corps cadre) did not get a salary for that, (because) I kind of view it as the same kind of job," Di Giorno said.
She added, "I think it should be equal," regarding whether cadre should be paid. "It's kind of the same job. I don't see why they wouldn't, especially since they do more hours towards it than we do."
RAs receive a stipend of $800, ARCs receive $1,600 and RCs receive $1,800.
According to Tanguay, Norwich is on the low end of compensation for college residential advising staff.
Cadre are also involved in extensive cadet training that could impact their lives academically and socially, and their ability to rest, according to Christiano.
Christiano, who has Sundays off from his duties as cadre, said, "Even if you have a day off, you don't really have a day off." The rooks "still greet you; they still come to you with questions. It's a 24-hour job. It's a big commitment."
RAs and cadres are similar in their leadership roles, such as training and engaging students.
Said Tanguay, "I don't know if (the role of a cadre is) more detailed, it may be different. We don't have to do the military training type activities with our students, but I think that's probably the biggest difference if there is any."
Both have to help freshmen acclimated to a college lifestyle. "At first, it is a little difficult with some (freshmen)," said Di Giorno. "(They are) a little clique-ish, especially the sports (athletes), but with orientation they kind of loosen up and get to know people."
Both corps and civilian students form close bonds. "Some people have a hard time transitioning from high school to college so that's a conflict, but I would say within the first three weeks everyone starts to act like a family," said Di Giorno. "I'm the mommy and they're my babies. So, that's how we view each other, and they'll say that too."
Both civilian RAs and corps cadre train students to adhere to Norwich values by teaching them rules and regulations as well as information pertinent to their lifestyle.
Joshua Chim, a 20-year-old junior computer science major from Jacksonville, Fla., and a rook staff sergeant, describes the role of a cadre as "giving the rooks day-to-day instructions on corps life, telling them how things are to be done, and making sure they uphold the standards."
RAs have a similar responsibility. "I am one of the overseers of civilian student in South Hall," said Radtke. "Basically my job is, I guess, similar to that of a cadre in that I make sure that (the students) are following the rules and regulations and a providing an environment to learn."
One of the biggest similarities between the corps and civilian lifestyles is the focus on leadership development. "If you're trying to be a leader, then this is the best way to see what you're made of and if your leadership is the right leadership," Christiano said.
Both RAs and cadre are motivated by their opportunity to impact others. "My staff sergeants and my platoon sergeant have had a huge impact on my life and if it wasn't for them I wouldn't be where I am mentally or academically. I hold it all to them," said Christiano. "So, if they did that to me then I wanted to have that type of affect on somebody else."
The aspiration to become better leaders, the emphasis on bonding, the desire to help others and adherence to the Norwich values, rules, and regulations connect the two lifestyles together under one alma mater, according to Seipel, who refers to both positions as leadership roles.
But the differences between the corps and civilians sides are evident. "There are two distinctly different environments," Seipel said.
"Things have obviously changed in how freshman (rook) training is done, but it just seems like the cadre want to be accountable of their people at all times, not that an RA doesn't, but I think that there are two different structures," Seipel said.
"RAs are in more of a lax environment versus rookdom, (which) is very structured and certainly that military (aspect) puts that in place," Seipel said.
Di Giorno compares herself to a cadre in certain ways, such as having to yell at her students. "Sometimes I have to be a little more aggressive, but I would say that ... being an RA is a little more lax and it's not the same set up (as cadre)," Di Giorno said.
"The cadre have to wake up for the kids and have to go to sleep after the kids do," Di Giorno said. "It's a very meticulous job, I understand."
"When (rooks) wake up, you wake up," said Christiano. "When you put them to bed your day's not even over because there's always a problem." He said he spends the vast majority of his day with his platoon, resulting in strains on his academic and social life.
Chim spends between seven to 10 hours a day with the recruits in his platoon. Whether he is helping train them for corps life, such as through practicing drill or the standard operating procedures, or educating them on their overall well being, such as proper nutrition, Chim spends the greater part of his day in his cadre role.
"I think being cadre holds a lot more responsibility," Christiano said. "The average cadre to the average RA, cadre easily put in more hours. There's no comparison."
Many feel cadre should be compensated.
"If I was an outsider looking in it would seem like cadre have more responsibilities and duties than an RA," Seipel said.
"Why (the residential staff) get paid probably goes back to the fact that it is the standard at other universities," Seipel said. "It is the norm to be paid as an RA."
Some colleges pay an RA's full room and board plus a larger stipend. When Tanguay suggests paying more, she said, "The response I've gotten is, ‘Well the corps doesn't get paid so what they get is good.'"
Seipel confirmed that cadre staff do not receive any form of monetary compensation, including higher school-based scholarships. "No one has ever asked me from financial aid or the bursars' office for an official copy of the manning roster," Seipel said, which indicates that the cadre are not evaluated any differently for financial aid.
"Personally, in my own opinion, they probably should have something. I don't know if its money (or) I don't know if it's a discount on a parking pass, but something," Seipel said. "Because even though they kind of volunteered for that position, they applied for it just like the RA process."
Both the residential staff and the cadre undergo a similar application process, including an evaluation by board of administrators and other high ranking officials within the university.
"The rationale I kind of get from colleagues and people above me is it's because of the lifestyle," Seipel said. "They chose to be in the corps of cadets, they chose to be leaders."
"I think that everyone should be rewarded in some way for their hard work. I can't really speak for the military philosophy, but certainly everyone should be rewarded for the effort that they put in," said Tanguay.
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