SKP: SAVE KINGS POINT
DO NOT TAKE ANY MORE SURVEYS UNTIL SEA YEAR IS RESTORED
Since June 16th, you have been the victims of the Maritime Administration and Academy leadership who have gone to the press and in national newspapers and defamed and maligned you in an effort to hide their own failures. They told your parents, you neighbors, the public and Congress that you, all Kings Pointers, and an entire industry are deviants. That is their message about our school, about you, and about Kings Pointers. That is their message about our profession.
They willfully misrepresented the data they collected from you
in midshipmen surveys and used it against you
You must take a stand and keep this from happening again — because they are going to do it to you again. The irony is that even as they refuse to listen to you, they need your data.The only way to keep them from using your data against you and Kings Point is to deny them the data. Your response should be, “No Sea, No D[ata].” You have the power and the legal right** to deny them the data. Do not let them bully or coerce you into thinking otherwise. When people in authority abuse their authority, you must act.
No Sea, No D!
Even saying you love Sea Year will give them “data” they can twist to permanently cancel training on commercial ships – They will claim that such data shows that you “loved” sea year as they define it – on reserve fleet, MSC and Navy ships.
They had no problem misrepresenting data to sacrifice your education, your graduation, the Academy’s world-class reputation and even the commitment they made to you when you entered KP. Data is the ammunition they need to weaponize SA/SH against you. Don’t give them any more ammo until sea year on commercial ships is fully restored.
YOU ARE THE TOOL FOR STATE SCHOOL SHIP FUNDING!
The Maritime Administrator has spent three years working with the state school lobbyists to get Congress to pay up to $1.8B for new training ships for the state schools. The first will be a replacement for the aging EMPIRE STATE. By cancelling Sea Year on commercial ships, the Administrator created a training crisis; MARAD then ‘solved’ the crisis it created by forcing Kings Pointers onto training ships, thus creating a powerful argument – you – to take to Congress to fund those ships. This is how they use your data against you.
THE SELECTION OF LMI WAS ‘WIRED’ – LMI WAS PRE-SELECTED FOR THE “CULTURE” STUDY CONTRACT
As we reported here, LMI knew that it was getting the culture study contract award even before the deadline for submitting bids for the RFQ had passed. The administration pre-chose the contractor because that’s the best way to ensure that it gets the result it wants from the study. The deck is stacked against you. It’s time for a new deck – No Sea, No D.
There are many pieces to the puzzle, but when we assemble them, everything points to the fact that the administration has pre-ordained the result of the study, which will be a recommendation that sea year on commercial ships be halted permanently. That solution dovetails with the agenda of those within MARAD and DOT who are seeking that eventual $1.8 billion to fund the construction of training ships for the state schools. It dovetails with the inquiries that MARAD has been making of Military Sealift Command regarding using MSC to do ALL USMMA midshipmen training for Sea Year (at least until Kings Pointers can be put on the new state school ships).
You must not allow the Academy to gather further data that will again be weaponized against you. We know that Maritime Administrator Jaenichen and Advisory Board Chairwoman Sharon van Wyk have been to Kings Point at least twice in the last week to try to bully midshipmen into participating in focus groups and SA/SH surveys or studies. They cannot legally make you “voluntarily” participate in such focus groups, surveys or studies. They need your cooperation. Freedom of speech includes the freedom not to speak. To put it in terms of the philosopher Ayn Rand, “Evil requires the sanction of the victim.” You must not give them that sanction. You must refuse to participate in any data collection effort related to SA/SH until such time as sea year on commercial ships is restored and all programs at the Academy are returned to normal.
It is time for you to take charge. Everyone wants you back to sea on commercial ships except 3 people – Jaenichen, Helis, and van Wyk. The administration won’t listen to Congress; it won’t listen to the alumni; it won’t listen to your parents and it doesn’t want to listen to you — but it desperately needs your data. If the midshipmen – the “children” (Helis’ words) – that the Administration claims it is trying to protect rise up in respectful protest and refuse to go quietly to the slaughterhouse, it can’t ignore you.
The administration will fight you on this. It will bully you. And when that happens, you must remember Helis’ admonition that SA/SH begins with bullying. You should promptly report such bullying to the SARC and insist that it be in the form of a reportable complaint. Whether it is Jaenichen, van Wyk, Helis, Sosa, or anyone else, you should report that bullying incident. Only then will the bullying stop. (And that will create truthful data that cannot be ignored – that the bullying problem at Kings Point is Administration-on-midshipman bullying – We all witnessed it at homecoming.)
You will be told that your failure to participate is jeopardizing the return of sea year. Hogwash. This administration has no intention of restoring sea year on commercial ships. You will be told that your failure to participate could cost the school reaccreditation. Balderdash. The requirements for avoiding loss of reaccreditation are spelled out here and participating in SA/SH surveys and focus groups is not a part of it. Intellectually, such a claim is no different than blaming a sexual assault victim for the assault because s/he was dressed provocatively. Such arguments are the words of people desperate to get your “voluntary” participation.
Many of you fear retaliation. But you need not be open in your rebellion. You can accept a survey, fill in every single oval (if you return it blank they can fill it in as they wish for you), put “No Sea, No D” in any comment fields, and put the survey in the sealed envelope you are provided. If you would like, write across the top of each page, “No Sea, No D – under protest.”
If they won’t let you fill it out anonymously, refuse to participate. If they force you to participate, write “Under protest” on every page. If they ask you to participate in a focus group, you can decline, or, if you prefer, participate but offer nothing of substance. (An answer such as “There is nothing I care to offer in response to that question” is a truthful answer.)
Some of your classmates will not go along with this. Do not let that discourage you; most will. But rest assured, refusing to participate is the key to defeating this. That is why Jaenichen and van Wyk and DOT representatives have spent so much time propagandizing this over the last few weeks. They know they need the sanction of their victims. This is why they have tried to keep you from speaking with alumni –they can’t stand Kings Point alumni (their disdain for alumni was demonstrated when Jaenichen referred to alumni as “a–h—s” at homecoming) because our Kings Point training turned us into what they fear — leaders who will not “go along to get along.”
Midshipmen, this is your hour. You need to all hang together or you, most assuredly, will hang separately. There are thousands of Kings Pointers, parents, professional mariners, Congressmen and others who are behind you and the Academy. Pay it back to them and pay it forward to the next generation of Kings Pointers. Do not be bullied. Acta non Verba.
SAVE KINGS POINT — SKP
No Sea, No D
** I will put up a separate post about your legal rights in the next day or two. But here are a few keys: If someone orders you to participate, make it clear that you wish to refuse to do so as a protest of the administration’s sea year
stand down cancellation. This makes your conduct a form of speech that is protected by the First Amendment. Under the First Amendment, the right to speak includes the right to refuse to speak. If you are still ordered to do so, make it clear on any document you are compelled to fill out that you are doing so under protest. Under no circumstances be disruptive. Remain respectful and keep your voice at a conversational tone. Document what happens. Write down the names of witnesses while it is fresh in your mind. If you are nevertheless compelled to participate, remember you also have a Fifth Amendment right to avoid giving incriminating statements. You don’t know what might be incriminating, so err on the side of caution. For example, even if you were a victim of SA/SH, if you were under the legal age for drinking and alcohol was involved, you could be incriminating yourself. If you were a witness and did nothing to intervene, you could conceivably be charged as an accessory or co-conspirator. If you helped a victim clean up after an incident, you could be charged with destruction of evidence. (Watch this video by a law professor as to why you should never give a statement to the police or other authorities because of the way innocent statements or actions can be used against you.) Err on the side of caution and assert your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
I think it is asking the midshipmen to risk an awful lot to do this. It also goes against their military training and respect for the chain of command. Are there no KP lawyers who have the ability to file a lawsuit on behalf of the Midshipmen or get an injunction to stop this process on the basis that the Federal government is breaking the “contract” with the Midshipmen? Take the onus off the Midshipmen who are on a terrible no-win situation.
It is important to remember that the midshipmen are not subject to the Military Code of Justice. I think the risk is actually quite low. The surveys only work if they are voluntary. Compelling a victim of SA/SH to participate in such a survey is simply a no-go. The administration will cajole/bully but ultimately will not succeed if the midshipmen hold strong. If the administration does make it mandatory, the survey pretty much loses all validity at that point in any event. That’s why all of these surveys done at schools across the country, including the other four federal academies, are voluntary. Sometimes they offer gift cards or other freebies in an effort to drive the participation rate higher.
As for an injunction, I do a lot of federal litigation. I think the chance of getting an injunction is below zero. Injunctive relief is called “an extraordinary remedy” and is difficult to get in any case. Add to that the fact that you are basically asking a judge to order the return of midshipmen to commercial ships where, if God forbid there is an SA/SH incident, the wrath of the entire social justice warrior movement will be visited upon that judge and it is really unlikely that the injunction would survive a preliminary motion to dismiss. If they start trying to compel midshipmen speech by forcing them to answer the survey, however, I think the chance of getting an injunction soars sky-high.
So how do the midshipmen do this and not get “stuck” for it? I agree with you in theory, but feel that this may be just what KP, MARAD and DOT are hoping that they do. Already the entire class of 2019 is facing class wide punishments for “non conforming behavior”. So much for improving the campus culture in a non-aggressive manner. Since KP MARAD AND DOT have publicly characterized the students as being out of control, wouldn’t this just escalate the closing of the school as student after student is dis-enrolled for bad behavior? Then DOT and MARAD can move forward with closing the school due to low enrollment and a midshipmen led culture that cannot be controlled. Then they can fund state training ships, and funneling KP money back into MARAD for who knows what? State schools require tuition, and tuition in many cases requires student loans, one of the most profitable areas of the federal government right now. Does this POTUS, DOT and MARAD actually support the Jones Act? Seems to me like they don’t, and KP midshipmen are caught up in a very political movement to fundamentally jeopardize our homeland security in the name of open maritime borders. I am using a pseudonym because I know that Chip has told you that he reads this page and the current administration of the school values retaliation as a management tool and uses it every day, one of the reasons that the culture is so flawed.
First, there has to be a stickable offense. At present, there is no requirement that the participate in a survey or focus group. The minute the administration tries to change that and order participation, it has destroyed the validity of the study. And, if they are ordered to participate, they should participate, but write “under protest” on any survey. Second, SA/SH is a very touchy thing. Think of the damage they do to a victim of SA/SH that is forced to relive that experience in a survey. As a practical matter, they can’t require participation or they are victimizing the victims a second time. How does that square with the idea that they are trying to protect the midshipmen? This strategy puts them between a rock and a hard place. Third, if they start trying to disenroll students for refusing to participate in a survey, the Members of Congress who nominated those mids are going to take action. Fourth, there are organizations out there such as FIRE that are tailor-made for intervening on behalf of midshipmen in such a situation. Fifth, there is precedent. The regiment of midshipmen mustered and marched out of Vickery Gate to protest administration policies back in 1969. There is strength in numbers.
One thing I have seen over the years, and I do not mean this as a put down in any way, is that parents are often more afraid of what the Administration can do than the alumni are. I believe that his is because the alumni, having lived through the experience of Kings Point, realize just how little authority the administration actually has; whereas parents seem to see the administration as all powerful. It really isn’t that powerful. It is constrained by the U.S. Constitution and politics. As long as the administration stays tucked safely in its protective shell of “we are doing this for SA/SH,” it will get away with it because SA/SH has become the third rail of campus politics. The strategy posted at KingsPointSentry.com is designed to deny the administration that protective shell. And it will work as long as the midshipmen hold strong.
Thanks for the clear and illuminating answer. I have to agree that as alumni, you absolutely know better what to expect from the administration. And I am sure that many parents feel as if they have been spun around multiple times and then asked to walk a straight line.
Do you think it would be reasonable for the regiment to do the same as the class of 69′ and actually march off campus in protest?
We are trying to counsel the midshipmen in a manner that can protects them legally. A walkout (although arguably free speech) raises the specter of insubordination that others are concerned about and stands a far greater chance of either being misinterpreted or used against the midshipmen. The case law is clear that disruptive speech can be regulated. A walkout is much harder to defend in court if it comes to that. By contrast, a refusal to voluntarily give data strikes directly at the criticism (misusing data) and can be done so in a respectful manner without giving rise to a legitimate claim of insubordination.
Also, I am receiving so many private emails about the climate of retaliation that exists at the Academy (retaliation by the administration against the midshipmen). Given that climate, I don’t think it would be prudent to stage a walkout; and I think it would be much harder for the regiment to be unified behind it.
“What is non-conforming behavior”
I don’t have those details yet, but will post if the commandant moves forward with punishments for the class of 2019 based on “non-conforming behavior”.
Please let me know if you do hear something. The mids (or anyone) can also send me confidential info on the tip line or via email to Andy Simpson 82 [at] save kings point.com (no spaces).
Your point about SASH being the third rail is well-taken. Nothing can freeze an institution like it—just the mention of it, however tenuous. But I suppose desperate times demand desperate measures.
I’d just be worried that it could wind up a better idea in theory than in practice. The strategy is potentially a home run for mids— but in reality, only if 100% of them are on board. The sad truth is that SASH (under at least one definition under its many amorphous definitions), likely did occur. Granted the frequency is probably equal to or less than the rate at which it happens, and will probably continue to happen, in the rest of the universe. But KP gets no credit for that—the Academy’s in the fishbowl.
The fly in the ointment is that the mid or two who actually suffered from SASH (setting aside for now how subjective that may be) really does have a right to report it on the survey—and they likely will, boycott or no.
Do you trust this process to emphasize that they collected a tiny sample? Or instead, that the Admin/survey consulting outfit, et al would emphasize the percentage of respondents reporting a problem?
To your point, figures lie and liars figure. I’m afraid generalized non-response can be weaponized just the same.
To be clear, we are NOT advocating that a midshipman who suffers SA/SH should not report it. He or she should not hesitate to report it and should avail him or herself of all resources needed to recover/cope. Just as bullying or coercion should be reported. The boycott refers to participation in surveys/studies/focus groups. I also don’t think 100% participation is required. There will always be a few who will not be willing to take the stand for one reason or another. A key part of any survey is reporting the participation rate. If the participation rate is too low, the study’s validity is worthless. You can’t hide that with percentages, because it will be by percent of the total student body.
I would not recommend this course of action. This is now firmly in the political arena and midshipmen are the servants of the goverment (YES IT IS PART OF THEIR OATH). Answer truthfully thw questions and abide by the core values of the school “Deeds Not Words” along with the the Honor Code. Let the politicians sort this matter and stay out of the drama. Think of the implications of a commissioned survey not being answered.. it would be akin to the public perception of the blue wall of silence.. I would caution folks with this very dangerous course of action as it might literally be the slicing of the jugular of the school in the age of strained fiscal resources…
These may not be the cards you like but you play the cards you get. engage with your congressmen and/or senator if the best course of action.
Reasonable minds can disagree. They did not surrender their constitutional rights when they were accepted into the regiment. They swore to uphold the constitution against enemies, foreign and domestic. Yes, it is in the political arena. And the midshipmen are the football. I advocate that they not allow themselves to be kicked. The implication of the survey not being answered will be that the regiment of midshipmen does not trust the administration to do the right thing with the data. This is not arising in a vacuum where someone could legitimately say that there is a blue wall of silence. And no one is saying not to address SA/SH. What we are saying is that this administration is using SA/SH for improper purposes and its own agenda and until it stops, no one should cooperate.
A valuable lesson about government bureaucracy that I learned at Kings Point was that to get government to shift course, sometimes you have to let things get really bad. In my first class year, we were after the administration to paint the flag pole because huge pieces of paint were peeling off and falling. It looked like the worlds tallest unguyed flag pole with leprosy. We wanted the Academy to paint it before the ring dance but couldn’t get it done. Wasn’t in the budget, and all that. Then one of my classmates candy striped the flag pole. The very next day, we had a brand spanking new coat of paint on the flag pole and it looked great. This is that kind of situation. We need to take charge and force the administration to shift course. The midshipmen have the helm and can do that. The parents and alumni have been working hard from the outside, but the midshipmen have to get up, got to their windows, stick their heads out the windows and say, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.“
Andy, I admire your conviction but you are forgetting some key facets from your time on long island sound. While at the academy, you do take the oath to defend the constitution as all enemies foreign and domestic. This is a solemn heartfelt promise to act in our countries interest. We protect democracy but must refrain from acting like a democracy aboard ship (YES MERCHANT SHIPS – I am senior licensed officer), in regiment and post-graduation while in military service or aboard Merchant Ships. FULL STOP! This is precisely the reason we train young men and women to led crews from a diverse background in austere conditions. You are advocating an action that will exacerbate the situation which could literally effect the careers of many and may result in the closure of the school. This is very different from a spirit mission to paint the flag pole.
It sounds like you are legally minded. I would encourage you to read the unclassified version of the Global Employment of Force (GEF) it is the document that calls out the rational for USMMA for our end user USTRANSCOM. In short, the school exists to have its grads serve as a pool of mariners in the advent of massive loss of the commercial mariners (conmars) and civilian mariners (civmars). If the Kings Point community (Students, Faculty, Alums, Parents) do not evolve with this change it will simply seize to exist. The government will view the toxic climate as a political risk and public liability. The branding of the sexual assault climate if it sticks will be preverbal Scarlett Letter for the school; if this happens, funds can and will be redistributed. Let me be perfectly clear, this is an existential threat to the school and playing chicken is ill advised.
You and I are not happy. We are brethren of the same school that afforded us a fruitful life. Taking actions akin to a poison pill is petulant behavior and will be viewed as such by the nation. The school’s issues are now common in the Washington Post, Stars and Stripes and Tradewinds. You will remember when USNA, USAFA, USCGA, USMA when through a similar crisis, the key to their survival is to validate the concern and attack the issue directly not demonize the actions taken to date. Asymmetric attacks on MARAD will work against everyone’s interest. The voyage ahead must include containing the flooding and then work towards getting the vessel back to port.
Rob, we have to agree to disagree. As I have posted in response to other people who have posted, we are not advocating civil disobedience. The surveys, at least to date, have been voluntary. The midshipmen have a right to not participate in a voluntary endeavor.
The Academy can make participation mandatory. If so, the midshipmen should obey, but should indicate that they are doing so under protest. As a practical matter, the Academy CANNOT make it mandatory, because that will demonstrate its hypocrisy — making a SA/SH survey/study/etc. mandatory victimizes the victims of SA/SH. This is why the strategy will work. The Academy needs the data (to use it to advance its false narrative), but can ONLY get it if the midshipmen give it on a voluntary basis.
When the captain of the ship asks the the Chief Engineer to voluntarily use a “magic pipe” to take care of the oil in the bilges, are you advocating that the Chief blindly obey? I’m not. Yes, the master is the ultimate authority on the ship. If at sea and the master issues an order (makes it mandatory), yes, I think the Chief Engineer must obey; but he or she sure as hell better log it: “Magic pipe installed at direct order of the Captain and under protest of the C/E.”
As long as the captain is telling the C/E that the decision to use the magic pipe is voluntary, the C/E should refuse. As soon as the captain orders it, the C/E should obey under protest. Same thing with our midshipmen.
You and I agree on one thing. This is an existential crisis. I can’t advocate “more of the same” under those circumstances. I wish there were other options available to the midshipmen. Unfortunately, I genuinely believe that if they voluntarily fill out the surveys, the data will be used to justify the permanent cessation of sea year on commercial ships. That will be the first step. Then it will be sea year in its entirety, replaced by training that most of us believe is second rate — on a training ship.
The situations that the other federal academies faced are not the same. They faced a genuine problem and confronted that problem. I’m not denying the existence of a genuine problem at Kings Point or suggesting that we not address it — the administration is. The administration has created a fake problem to divert the attention from the real problem because it is the administration that failed to address the real problem. And it is this same administration that is going to use the data from this LMI study to continue the false narrative that it created to drive an agenda completely unrelated to the false narrative. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
I agree with everything you have done and said in the past, except for this. To ask mids to take this stand puts them at risk of retaliation, unless of course their own leadership (meaning reg row) actually backs them up publicly. I don’t see that happening, unfortunately. If the regimental leadership was willing to take that stand, I am pretty sure that the mids would be supportive. But, barring that, they risk retaliation, even from the regimental leaders who have already completed their own sea years and will be doing the bidding of the administration.
The best thing they could do is indicate that they thought their sea year on an MSC or other training ship was useful, but not what they were promised when recruited to the school and that they need experience on commercial ships as well.
Finally, I would urge mids to make a copy of their submitted surveys and mail them to the alumni association of even KPS for safe keeping so long as those groups would be willing to act in such a capacity. Of course, if the administration said they could not make copies of their own submitted documents that would make clear that the fix is in. You should also find out if the mids are going to be asked to fill out and submit these surveys in the presence of administration or reg row leadership or if they can fill them out and submit them privately and anonymously. That would also tell us something about the process.
Finally, and most importantly, if someone was the victim of SASH, they should make clear the nature of the problem and where it took place and by whom it was committed (fellow mid/ civmar/ military civilian etc.).
The main thing is that the mids should be truthful, but they should keep in mind that the administration has already publicly determined that there is a problem and that the mids themselves are a big part of the problem. They should understand that the hand picked cultural assessment company is working on that assumption.
You could probably safely put up another $100,000 right now and bet that the study will put little, if any blame at all, on the administration and MARAD for the problem.
I would be more than willing to receive copies of the submitted documents. I disagree that the mids are at any serious risk of retaliation. Here’s how past surveys have been conducted: Midshipmen are mustered, told the survey is voluntary and confidential, given a survey and an envelope and asked to fill it out. They put the survey in the envelope and return it and leave.
If that process is followed, then the midshipmen can easily return the survey marked in the manner I have suggested. If that process is not followed, here is how it should play out: Midshipman is ordered to fill out the survey. Midshipman asks, “Sir, am I required to fill this out?” Answer: “Yes.” Midshipman response: “Aye aye, sir.” Fills out survey and writes “Under protest, No Sea, No D.” and turns in the survey.
If midshipman then faces retaliation, he has a very good First Amendment violation claim against the Academy. And we’ve already had one parent (known to me, but listed anonymously in the comments) offer to put up $50,000 for the defense of a midshipman facing retaliation.
I love the concept but these kids are on a short term lease at the academy. If they get kicked out of the school or are otherwise disciplined unfairly they can certainly bring a lawsuit that they MiGHT win in a few years, but by then their careers at sea, if not destroyed instantly, may already be over. already over. Not only that, but by that point the administration will have Furthermore, by that point, the administration will already have gotten their state training ships and the elimination of sea year on commercial ships. The issue for the mids is a simple risk/reward analysis–not only for the individual student but for the academy tradition of sea year as well.
The better option is to get the the congressional supporters who have written to MARAD to insist on an immediate answer or at least for an explanation as to why the White House has to approve it.
Again, I really love what you guys are trying to do- just differ on this point.
[Moderator’s note: I’ve combined the above post with the following corrective post by “Parent”]:
Please disregard the typos in my previous post. I was in a rush.
The basic point I was trying to make in the post above is that by the time a mid wins a lawsuit, his or her career may already have been destroyed due to the unwarranted disciplinary action. Furthermore, by the time he or she wins the legal action, the academy itself will already have gotten its SMA training ships and the elimination of sea year on commercial ships. Such a lawsuit is simply too little too late for both the mid and the academy itself.
Parent: If we were talking full blown litigation, I would agree with you. But if MARAD tries to punish a midshipman for exercising First Amendment rights, that’s the kind of thing that a federal judge will issue a temporary restraining order for. Denial of a constitutional right is the classic type of irreparable injury that TROs and injunctions are designed to address — preserve the status quo while the merits of the litigation are adjudicated. And those kinds of cases are usually fast-tracked. I litigated one a few years ago where we went from filing the lawsuit to hearing in the trial court AND a fully briefed appeal with decision from the appellate court in under 90 days (we won). That’s normally a two-to-three year process at a minimum.
The key will be for the midshipmen to do this the right way. Don’t be disruptive; remain respectful and professional at all times. Don’t participate voluntarily. Obey lawful orders but don’t be afraid to note your objection to the order. If bullied, report it. Document, document, document.
The optics of the standoff between Academy leadership and the midshipmen are terrible. The course of action described takes on all of the attributes of a mutiny particularly as viewed from those outside the KP community. As a result, there will be little sympathy for their cause by politicians or the public- at- large. Moreover, Academy leadership will exploit the situation to its advantage further undermining the credibility of KP alumni and the institution. It is bad enough that midshipmen are being used and abused by Academy leadership, abandoned by Congress, and urged to enter the breech, but the fact remains that the Save KP actions proposed place the burden of responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the midshipmen. Is that the best we can do? If there are only “three people” in the persons of Mr. Paul Jaenichen, Supt. James Helis and Dr. Sharon van Wyk who are against returning the Sea Year, isn’t there one person in Congress who can intercede? Have any of the key Congressman, e.g., Rep. Peter King (NY) been apprised of developments? In my view, the risks of the recommended approach outweigh the theoretical rewards.
A mutiny requires disobedience. We are not advocating disobedience. At present, the participation in the surveys, studies, etc. is voluntary. The administration is desperate to keep it voluntary because as soon as it makes it mandatory, the administration loses all credibility and the surveys lose all validity. Once it is mandatory, we advocate obeying the order but doing so under protest. No mutiny whatsoever.
The Academy is supposed to be raising future leaders in the maritime industry. We want leaders who are willing to put it on the line. We want a third mate who is willing to say to the Master of the ship, “Captain, I advise against that course of action” and when the master refuses to listen, the third mate must be willing to put it in the ship’s log. Go along to get along brings you catastrophes like Deepwater Horizon.
Congress is stymied because the data is being misinterpreted by the administration and the false narrative has taken root. SA/SH is toxic to a politician. A politician cannot presently take a stand in favor of returning midshipmen to commercial ships because the first time there is an incident on a commercial ship (no matter how many incidents have occurred on federal ships in the meantime), an opponent will use it to vilify the politician. That’s why it has to be the perceived victims (the midshipmen) who must stand up and say, “Thanks for trying to protect me, but no thanks.” Unless the people who are being saved say that the cure is worse than the cancer, no one else will take the action. Once the midshipmen do take that action, Congress will have some cover. That’s an unfortunate reality.
Perception sometimes is accepted as reality and the confrontation between the midshipmen and Academy leadership, however legally interpreted, will be perceived as an insubordinate act. The point-counterpoint argument is little more than a Kabuki dance with again, in my opinion, the midshipmen taking the risk? I repeat, have any of the key Congressman been informed of developments or is this course of action being taken on independently? Curious minds want to know.
George you asked, “have any of the key Congressman been informed of developments or is this course of action being taken on independently?” If you are asking if they were informed of the proposal that midshipmen not voluntarily give data to the administration, I can say that this website is not coordinating with Congress, so, no. However, I do know that congressional staffers are well aware of this website and are checking it frequently (as is MARAD). Geographically, the top three cities in the country visiting the website are Kings Point, New York City and Washington, D.C. Thus, I believe that they are informed.
As far as perception versus reality, that’s a major reason for this website – to provide information with sourced material so that people can see the reality. I appreciate the various comments I’m receiving because they give me the opportunity to correct misperceptions. In this case, the key misperception being that we are advocating disobedience when we are not. We are advocating that midshipmen refuse to voluntarily provide data; or, if compelled to provide data, that they do so under protest. We are not advocating disobedience. Also (and I recognize that you have not suggested otherwise, but just to be clear), we are not advocating that midshipmen provide dishonest responses if they are compelled to provide data.
I am at a loss to understand your advice to the cadet corps if the data relates to their experience on non-commercial ships at sea. It would serve your objective to have the data indicate the deficiencies in training on non -commercial vessels. If the data relates to SA/SH it would seem to undermine the Administration excuse to ban commercial sailing if –as you claim– SASH is not an inordinate problem at sea. Suggesting insubordination is never a good idea.
First, We have not suggested insubordination in any way. We have suggested that the midshipmen should not voluntarily give data. We specifically stated that if compelled to provide data, the midshipmen should do so, although they should feel free to state that they are doing so under protest. We believe that the Academy cannot compel the production of the data because it would violate the rights of SA/SH victims to require them to participate. But, if the Academy is stupid enough to go that route, we are telling the midshipmen to follow the order while respectfully recording their objection to doing so.
I believe that the data will undermine the Academy’s assumptions. But, the current data undermines those assumptions and despite that, the Academy has steadfastly insisted upon misinterpreting it. The unfortunate truth is that despite this administration has proven that it will distort the data to suit its false narrative. The only solution under those circumstances is to deny the administration the data (or if compelled to provide the data, deny the administration the validity of the data because it was taken under duress).
The mistake you are making regarding the data is assuming that MARAD will deal with the data honestly. It has dealt with the data dishonestly throughout this entire process, so there is no basis for such an assumption.
Refusing to give data only strengthens the Administration’s ability to “spin” as you have suggested
We’ll have to agree to disagree. When the people MARAD is supposedly trying to protect (the midshipmen) send a clear message that MARAD is the problem, not the solution, it will be hard to spin.
We believe — and with good reason — that the administration already plans to spin the data. Therefore, giving MARAD the data plays right into the administration’s hands. Denying it the data makes it harder to spin — it does not strengthen the hand it is trying to play. Yes, they’ll still try to spin. These guys have made it clear that they are not above simply lying to advance their agenda so I have no doubt that they will try to spin in anything. But we disagree as to which is the easier path for MARAD.
Based on Jaenichen, Helis, and van Wyk’s prior conduct, the midshipmen should NOT participate in any surveys, interviews, or focus groups. MARAD and the Academy have an established pattern of lying about prior survey results with tragic results for the Academy and the midshipmen. It is what enabled them to start this entire contemptable charade about sea year. For that reason, the risk of participating any further, and the likely mis-representation of those results again by MARAD, is too great. The midshipmen should not fill in any written surveys and if in a focus group, should simply say “I have no comment” to every question. Even a seemingly innocuous “I loved sea year” will be used by MARAD to say sea year was great WITHOUT commercial ships and this four month tragic episode of withholding that training from the midshipmen will become permanent.
When MARAD wired the survey contract to LMI, it destroyed the credibility of the vendor and any survey results. When MARAD asked MSC to quote how much it will cost to do 100% of midshipmen training, it gave evidence of the type of outcome we can expect.
You can see why DOT changed the survey contract term from six months to two months within a day of it being issued. In two months, Jaenichen will still be in place to use (manipulate) the results of the wired surveys to further his agenda. In six months, he will be gone. The agenda is obvious.
Midshipmen – politely decline to participate. It is your right. In past surveys and focus groups, many midshipmen did not participate. Now is no different. These surveys and focus groups are voluntary. If they threaten retaliation or punishment, let the civil rights officer know and be respectful but firm.
This entire charade was created by three people – Jaenichen, Helis, and Van Wyk – who caused the Academy to lose accreditation and crafted a story to blame it on Sea Year. This entire episode has been a real lesson in politics for the midshipmen, particularly since they are the victims the charade.
The TRITE “bottom line” is this. If the Middies STICK TOGETHER and on each “voluntarily” submitted “survey” FILED UNDER PROTEST is on EACH and EVERY page, Hellis and his Henchmen will be locked in irons. Only a single survey needs to “disappear” and be photocopied as ALL will be identical. This is NOT insubordination but UNITY. Should the Middies (coerced or not) be unable to keep a single survey for safekeeping, they can do as we used to do! Prior to the survey of say 50 questions, pre-plan so that each Middie remembers a question (A-Z last name the first 26 questions, A-Z first name, questions 27-52). Immediately after the compulsory survey, collect and compile all the questions. The answers are irrelevant, any circle will do since EACH AND EVERY SURVEY has written on EACH AND EVERY PAGE, “Filed Under Protest.” There is simply no way that Hellis and his Henchman can whitewash all that ink. Plus, all the Middies will know what they have written.
During Homecoming, I informally “interviewed” over 10 of the “children” and they were very unified on having sea-year reinstated. I heard the cheers from those in the stands and had Fells rip the banner from my hands. The UNITED States Merchant Marine Academy. They have GREAT Power if they UNITE!
One other point. From my chats with the midshipmen, I understand the surveys are being administered by 1st Classmen. I can remember as an underclassman, some of the Zombos or even higher, looked away when it was for the benefit of the Regiment. “Sorry Admiral, I musta ‘misplaced’ one of the surveys. Are you sure you gave me 100? Jeez, I’m sure I collected EVERY single one.”
And… Just had to add this, time to watch “FARENHEIGHT 451” again…
I think all surveys are now conducted by computer so there is no “copy” you can get from the mids. Also, they can’t write “under protest” unless there is a comment section at the end that allows for it. Also, you can’t “bubble all” as the system will allow you to choose only one of the fields. We take these all the time (command climate) on Active Duty. Just wanted to give you some info on the process. The likely scenario will be all the mids will get an e-mail with a link to the survey site and given a # to enter as proof of authenticity.
That’s a good point. From what I understand, these surveys are not being done by computer, but that understanding could be wrong. If they are conducting the survey in that manner, then the midshipmen should simply elect to not take the survey and send the email to trash. The communication from the Academy has confirmed that participation is voluntary (as it must be, as we pointed out here) so there can be no repercussions for not taking the survey.
(I made you anonymous because I wasn’t sure you wanted your comment to be public.)