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As a female member of Texas A&M’s Parsons Mounted Cavalry (“one of the units most determined to remain all male”), I want to clear up some of the misconceptions in Mimi Swartz’s “Love and Hate at Texas A&M” [TM, February 1992]. I have been a Drill and Ceremony cadet from the beginning; I entered the corps completely voluntarily, with no interest whatsoever in a military career, and I will march Final Review this May with no regrets.
Male cadets are generally unfamiliar with, rather than hostile to, females. In my experience, those males who have worked with females are less likely to object to their presence. The best example is my participation in the cavalry. At first, life was not particularly pleasant for me or the other female member. Since there had been only two females in the Cav previously, our male classmates were completely opposed to our participation. After we all worked together for a common goal, however, they gradually began to accept our presence; eventually both of us secured significant positions and are equal in rank to the rest of our class.
I can confidently afirm that most cadets are reasonable enough to think for themselves. Aggies support traditions, but, contrary to popular belief, they can take the implications of each with a grain of salt. The corps does not seek purely subservient or power-hungry individuals but rather those with a deep respect for Aggie pride and tradition coupled with sensible leadership and the ability to analyze rules and structures, revising them as necessary. I believe that A&M will continue in the positive direction it has been heading.
LORI K. SEELHOFF
I AM A FORMER MEMBER OF PARSONS Mounted Cavalry, and I know the Cav was one of the first units to have female participation, long before the band. All of the cadets of Texas A&M have been judged guilty without the few having been given a trial. The article says nothing of those cadets, male and female alike, who work extremely hard to make the corps a very effective officer training environment.
JAY JONES, JR.
I WAS ANGERED TO KNOW that such treatment of women still goes on today. Do the men in the corps favor tradition over the humane treatment of their fellow human beings, who just happen to be women?
MS. SWARTZ PAINTED a most disturbing picture of misguided loyalties that protect the disgraces that threaten Texas A&M. I hope that the students and alumni who do not condone such practices will step forward as leaders and call a halt to them.
MS. SWARTZ FELL FOR A very out-of-date, stereotypical portrayal. I am a female who graduated from A&M in 1986. The only corps member I even knew was someone I went to high school with. Most of my classes and my active social life as a sorority member did not include corps members or these “Aggie” males described.
I AM ONE OF THE NEARLY 17,000 women at A&M who chose not to join the corps. In my experience, being a woman at A&M means having doors opened for me and never having to stand while riding the shuttle bus. These are the shocking forms of harassment that women outside the corps are subjected to on a daily basis.
MS. SWARTZ’S REVIEW of problems within the corps has its validity, but the generalizations about non-corps students are inaccurate. As a female student at A&M, I am offended by statements like “women here are expected to behave.” It is ludicrous to think that in 1992, at a university with more than 40,000 students, women would actually choose to live in such a stiﬂing atmosphere. Aggie women embody the Texas spirit and sense of independence that our school holds dear.
WHEN I ATTENDED TEXAS A&M in the early sixties, I was indeed humiliated, cursed, and submitted to both physical and mental hazing. I endured it because I knew it to be a great character builder. Yet female students tend to cry “sexual harassment” whenever the character building gets too rough to suit them. The corps of cadets is not “fighting against the future,” as Ms. Swartz indicates. It is fighting for the ability to produce the kind of durable, capable military men it has always produced.
TOM W. BARNETT
I DO NOT CONDONE HARASSMENT or abuse of women, and I believe that the article portrays corps members as considerably less than the gentlemen they strive to be. If Ms. Swartz had chosen to dwell on more of the positive aspects of corps tradition, the article could have presented a balanced view of the worthy accomplishments of the corps of cadets.
T. C. WILLIAMS
I AM AN AGGIE (class of ’78, non-reg). I have one grandfather, two uncles, three cousins, two sisters, and two brothers-in-law who are Aggies. Why is anyone surprised that women are having trouble “conforming to the corps”? It is a highly ritualized organization that has always served as a venue for the rites of passage of young, rowdy, boisterous, and horny American males.
SCOTT H. CAVITT
LET’S FACE IT, FOLKS. A&M is the corps and the corps is A&M. If a young lady chooses to become a corps member, she must accept all that the corps has to offer. After all, the corps always was designed to be and is still a men’s organization.
CONGRATULATIONS TO LAWRENCE Wright on his courageous attempt to make some sense out of the battle of the sexes and to deal with the issue of male-bashing [“Are Men Necessary?” TM, February 1992]. I can only admire him for his low-key approach in spite of all the totally outrageous statements coming from women these days.
A Sociable Scoundrel
I read with great interest skip Hollandsworth’s “The Ranger Bandit” [TM, February 1992]. Needless to say, I have no sympathy for Steve Benifiel and all his friends or for Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the sheriff and the state trooper who did the colossal cover-up. Bravo to the officers who were involved in the arrests of all those people.
MARY ANN PERKINS
I SPENT MANY EVENINGS at the parking lot mentioned without once seeing Benifiel barrel by at 90 miles per hour while being chased by local police. And when he did drive past, the typical reaction from the crowd could be described as disrespectful, even crude.
No doubt Ranger and Eastland County have suffered considerable corruption, but for anyone to take Benifiel at his word and print it shows a comparably high level of gullibility.
Mr. Hollandsworth did mention a couple of things I can side with: The stories printed are for the most part myth, and the friends Benifiel had, he bought in one way or another.
Readers should know that not everyone in Ranger views “Benny” as the town hero, and some of us have never worn his freebie caps or jackets. I don’t miss him at all.
I AM A LIFELONG resident of Eastland County, and I was disgusted by the attempt to glorify this criminal. To set the record straight, 99.75 percent of the people in our county rejoiced the day he and his cohorts were arrested. Thanks to the diligence and perseverance of honest lawmen, justice prevailed.