(Ms. Suter’s editorial was published a week ago, but I didn’t have time to post it until now.)
Ivy Barton Suter was in the first class of women to graduate from the Academy. She did her sea year at a time when the Academy was essentially making it up as it went along when it came to supporting female midshipmen, especially at sea. As this history describes it,
After creating quarters in the barracks, ensuring appropriate lavatory facilities, and securing berthing space aboard ships, the Academy did little if anything to help women students deal with an often unwelcoming, if not hostile, environment.
Thus, Ms. Suter’s excellently written editorial published in The Hill’s Congress Blog is worthy of particular consideration. You should read it all, but here’s a sampler:
The Academy’s leaders panicked. Instead of bringing people together to come up with tangible solutions, it sought to make headlines by suspending “Sea Year,” the cornerstone of the curriculum during which our male and female midshipmen train on commercial vessels. Academy leaders are operating under the bizarre assumption that sexual assault and harassment can only happen on a ship, not on a campus.
The negative impact of this decision on our midshipmen in terms of professional development is hard to overstate. How did the Academy’s leaders arrive at such a radical, unprecedented decision? We don’t know. They have stubbornly refused to share the data not only with the students, but also with parents, alumni and, amazingly, the U.S. Congress, with members making multiple requests.
This is by no means her first contribution to the debate. She also wrote a great op-ed in the Maritime Executive and appeared in this Maritime TV video on the sea year
stand down cancellation. Bravo Zulu Ms. Suter.
As the parent of an affected mid I thank you.
It was the Secretary of Transportation that stopped sea year. Not the MARAD administration nor the Admiral. The Navy had to deal with this in the 1990s when Tailhook occurred. They are only trying their best based on their military backgrounds. I support them. Too many people are way too emotionally engaged. It takes time to come up with solutions to problems
John, the Secretary of Transportation didn’t just wake up one day and say, “I’m going to shut down sea year.” In fact, all of the evidence points to this being orchestrated by MARAD, Superintendent Helis, and Sharon van Wyk (who, far from being an independent voice for USMMA has instead been a voice for Helis’ views). Look at the facts. Prior to April 2016, no one was talking about SA/SH during sea year as being a significant problem. (Any SA/SH is always a problem, but you can’t eliminate it in any environment; so what we are talking about here is SA/SH that rises to a significant level.) When Helis testified to Congress in March 2016, he spent a good deal of time talking about SA/SH at the Academy but nary a word about SA/SH during sea year.
In April 2016, the administration was told by Middle States that the Academy was going to be put on accreditation warning because of its failure to address SA/SH at the academy. The administration was given an opportunity to respond to this finding and was told that the news of the accreditation warning would be made public at the end of June 2016.
Between April 2016 and June 16, 2016, the administration concocted the false narrative that Middle States’ concern was about SA/SH during sea year. I publicly offered a $100,000 reward to anyone who could prove that the administration’s claim was true and it still remains uncollected.
On June 10, this false narrative was reported to Secretary Foxx by van Wyk, along with the comment, “I wouldn’t let my daughter go on a ship” and Foxx replied, “me neither” and ordered that sea year be shut down. The
stand downcancellation was announced on June 16, 2016 and thereby overshadowed the news of the accreditation warning, which was announced 8 days later. Mission accomplished — bureaucrats successfully deflected Middle States’ criticism at their leadership with the “Look, a squirrel” technique.
Tailhook was a scandal. Here, there was nothing that triggered the stand down but the false narrative. That’s the scandal in this case.
Isn’t it about time that the USMMA be run by a graduate of the USMMA ? At the very least he would know ALL about the Sea Year!
Has any effort been made to evaluate the Sea Year training on government vessels? If that training doesn’t measure up to training on commercial vessels–which is the mission of the Academy–the Administration seems to have violated requirements for a USCG license at taxpayer expense. If so, the Sea Year should be immediately restored with proper safeguards against SA/SH to stop this hemorrhaging.