Dating the Corps

*disclaimer: I was not a bootchaser prior to these events

 

When Texas A&M University first opened, it was an all male military institution made up of the Corps of Cadets. Today, the Corps still exists, but it is now non-mandatory and co-ed, welcoming male and female cadets. Non-regs (so normal people like me, NOT in the corps) also co-exist at Texas A&M. Because of the distinction between the corps and non-regs, there can definitely be a barrier amongst the students. However, that barrier can be easily crossed for non-regs by either becoming friends or dating someone in the corps. In my case, I am dating the corps. 

My freshman year of college, I met a man who had it all, the looks, the personality, and the future planned out for himself. It was great! However, the biggest obstacle for us was that he is a cadet. I don’t have any close, personal military connections in my life. So dating someone who intends to commission as an officer in the military after college was, and is, a little scary. But loves conquers all, right? 

The first thing I had to learn about the corps was their lingo. They have their own world and their own terms. It was a struggle for me to remember what “punched”, “pissheads”, and “step-off” meant. My first barrier with my boyfriend was that Colton told me his freshman year that one of his “buddies” (corps friend who was in his unit and same class year) “punched” from the corps. I assumed that the guy died. So I felt bad for Colton that whole weekend and even brought him cake and everything to try and cheer him up since he seemed very down about that. It wasn’t until almost a week later that someone told me that “punched” meant they quit the corps to become a non-reg… I was so annoyed and embarrassed at myself for that that I punched Colton in the arm the next time I saw him. It has definitely been a struggle from there.

The second biggest challenge for me dating a cadet was scheduling. I want to spend as much time as possible with Colton, but his corps schedule says different. They have to wake up each morning (Monday-Friday) at 5am, workout at 6am, eat breakfast by 7am, and then be ready for class and to start the school day by 8am. Then, in the afternoons on Mondays and Fridays, he has “afternoon activity” where they do physical workouts and other military style training. After that, on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, he has “evening formation” from 6-7pm. As a freshman and sophomore, he wasn’t allowed to really leave in the evenings to study or go anywhere off campus for dinner or even just to hang out unless he signed out and came back at the time he had written down. His junior year, it was more flexible, but he was required to sit “SOD” (Sergeant of the Day) or as I called it Sergeant of the Desk, where he was required to sit at a desk in his dorm hallway and sign out underclassmen who left the dorm, while also monitoring the hallway from 7:30-11pm. Oh, and did I mention that he is required to live on campus in a dorm with his corps unit all four years of college? They even have to share a communal bathroom! That’s crazy to me!

The third challenge for our relationship was how to address our date nights and free time. During the school day and each time they want to go to the MSC (Memorial Student Center) or Rudder Tower, they would have to be in their ugly, khaki, Band-Aid uniforms called Bravos. Colton and I couldn’t leave campus often during the day to get lunch or shop because he was usually in uniform. Such a pain! On the weekends, the corps is required in the fall semester to attend each and every home football game and had to stay for the entire duration of almost 4 hours! As a good girlfriend, I would go to each game with him and somehow tough it out for the whole game, but let’s just say, when the temperatures are over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, I am not a happy camper. Lastly, for our date nights, we could never leave College Station/Bryan area because it is against the rules for the cadets to leave the area unless given permission or for an open weekend twice a semester where they usually go to their hometowns. So our date nights were restricted to only the College Station/Bryan area. For our 1 year anniversary on December 9, 2017, we went to the George Bush Museum because there wasn’t much else to do. As compensation, we celebrate our ½ years each June 9 because we can finally leave the city, so we have gone to Houston, San Antonio, and that city down south.

All in all, dating the corps has definitely been a ride. Though I did not know what I was truly getting myself into, I have no regrets in dating someone in the Corps of Cadets. If anything, I wish I had tried harder and earlier to understand the corps and Colton’s world. After crossing that “barrier” between the corps and non-regs, I feel like I understand ROTCs and the military-like world that exists outside of non-cadets. Colton and I have been dating for almost 3 years, coming up on December 9, 2019. So I would say dating the corps isn’t so bad!