More turmoil at A&M; Corps commandant resigns, Perry's involvement seen
Wed January 27, 2010 10:10 am

This is the lead of the story from The Battalion, the student newspaper at A&M:

After seven and a half years as commandant of the Corps of Cadets, Lt. Gen. John Van Alstyne resigned Friday [January 22].

"There are good young men and women in the Corps," Van Alstyne said. "It was an honor to serve as the commandant."

Van Alstyne said he understood that the new commandant would be reporting to the vice president of student affairs Lt. Gen. Joe Weber.

This has Rick Perry's fingerprints all over it. No major action occurs at A&M without his say-so. Perry believes that Aggie spirit is not what it used to be, and he had his allies at A&M bring Weber, a retired Marine lieutenant general, to the campus as vice president for student affairs last summer. To make room for Weber, then-president Elsa Murano fired the highly regarded occupant of the job, Dean Bresciani.

I interviewed General Van Alstyne several years ago for a story I wrote about changes taking place at Texas A&M, and the resistance to them. Enrollment in the Corps of Cadets had been dropping for some time. The main reason was that "Corps games" -- a form of hazing -- in which younger cadets were encouraged to miss class and perform duties prescribed by upperclassmen were incompatible with academic success. The grade point average of the Corps was abysmal. Val Alstyne resolved to change this. He told me at the time that if the Corps did not change, it would die. The student leader of the Corps, whom I also interviewed, said the same thing. But the rank and file of cadets resisted the deemphasis on Corps games. No single issue is of more concern at A&M than whether Aggie spirit is what it ought to be. The Aggie vocabulary includes terms like "red ass" and "Old Army" to describe the ideal Aggie spirit. Weber was brought in, I believe, to bring back Bonfire, which thankfully has not happened yet, and to make the Corps more "red ass."

Anita Van Alstyne, the commandant's wife, sent an e-mail to friends and supporters that has been forwarded to me:

From: AVanals@aol.com [mailto:AVanals@aol.com] Anita Van Alstyne, wife of Gen. John
Subject: Totally NOT approved by JVA, but spoken from my heart.

Thank you for your concern and friendship. I will not attend any function at which any of the governor's cronies will be in attendance. He has chosen to put a drunken, coed groping (adjective removed) in power as the Vice President of Student Affairs of this wonderful university, and I will not be a party to that, nor do I want my husband disgraced by their behavior.

Bowen Loftin [the interim president who will soon take over as president] had his staff lie about what had occurred and why John retired. Loftin came to John's office last Friday, 21 January 2010, and told John that it was his intention to put the Corps of Cadets under the control of the VPSA (which was denied in the Eagle this morning). After the present VPSA had been in office for one semester, John and I had a long talk, and agreed that he could not, nor would I tolerate, his having to work for another asshole; we are too old and tired for that.

There are lots of folks who love us, and lots of folks who hate us. We are proud and thankful for the years we served the Corps of Cadets. It is my great sorrow that we will not be able to save it from Rick Perry, Mike McKinney, Bowen Loftin and the Board of Regents.

We cannot thank you enough for your friendship and support of the Corps of Cadets. Our earnest prayer is that you will continue to support them as long as you live. I know we will.

* * * *

I am truly flabbergasted that Perry would resume meddling in A&M affairs in the middle of a political campaign. It speaks at once to his bad judgment and to his confidence, bordering on arrogance. I feel sorry for Bowen Loftin, who will soon be inaugurated as president, or should I say puppet. No president of A&m will have any independence as long as Perry is governor.

I will continue to monitor developments and to try to obtain more information. But I will close with a letter to the Battalion that sums up the situation involving the Corps:

General Van Alstyne did a lot for the Corps, and more than most cadets, past or present, realize. The state the Corps is in now is due to 2 things. A resistance by cadets to adapt to a changing world around them, but more so I'd say it's the average cadet's apathy towards exemplifying what the Corps is supposed to stand for. GVA did not make the Corps "soft," he simply enforced rules that would keep stupid things from happening. If the Corps doesn't adapt, there will be no more Corps, simple as that.

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