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the boot heels of Old Army walking back to the cadet quadrangle where he must break the news: “We have to let the girls play, too.” Sucking Thumbs It is uncommonly touching the way these administrators have come to the aid of the Corps. But we must remember that Miller, Woodall and Simpson all attended Texas A&M when the Corps was all there was. Actually, it is ironic that Simpson is the author of the memo, for it tends to simplify what appears to be a more complex personality. It would be wrong to read Simpson’s remarks as the private confessions of a sexist. And it would be too simple to say that he is a man who swears blind allegiance to the Corps and its most embarrassing follies. Two hundred pages of testimony and an array of exhibits demonstrate a more complicated man. If Simpson is the Corps’ best friend, then he is also its best critic. And the irony behind Simpson’s memo is that the Corps would do well to listen to Simpson more often. He tells his story under examination by Nelkin and Gregg Meyers, attorney for the Justice Department. On May 1, 1973 Simpson retired from the Marine Corps after 37 years of service and came to live in Bryan near the campus of his alma mater. “I did what I promised myself that I would never do as a retired officer: I filtered back, gravitated toward the active duty military, being the R.O.T.C.., giving them a lot of free and unsolicited advice about what they should be doing, taking up their time with how they should be doing other things.” The general soon befriended the student commander of the Corps who in turn asked the general to study the Corps “because he thought the Corps had serious problems.” The general solicited permission from then President rack K. Williams. “So, for a period of about 60 days I . . . made an unscientific assessment of the Corps; and I agreed . . . that the Corps had many keen and serious problems. And I gave them the benefit of my opinion, which they didn’t like at all. I assured them that the Corps was their own worst enemy. They were sucking their thumbs, feeling sorry for themselves. Nothing more was heard of that.” “Then in June of 1974 . . . Dr. Williams called and asked if I would be willing to come to work for him with the primary purpose of seeing if I could assist the Corps find themselves and to perhaps assure its continuation and hopefully its prosperity. I agreed to do that and a month later, on the 15th of July, I came to work here.” What Simpson found during that 60 days was a Corps in the throes of an identity crisis. Once the only club on campus, it now competed with several The Corps was made non-compulsory in 1964. others, nent. Just ten years before Simpson assumed his new job, the A&Mregents had decided to make the Corps noncompulsory and to allow women into the university. Those were momentous decisions and although the wisdom of those decisions is hailed unanimously today, they were -devisive issues among A&M alumni. “When the decision was made to allow women to come into the university,” Simpson continued, “I was by that time a general officer in the Marine Corps. Many of my classmates felt, mistakenly, that general officers had a great deal of influence. So I received a lot of letters, telephone calls, ‘Go to the governor; go to the president; do something; they are going to destroy Texas A&M.’ “I sawed off that conversation by saying that I thought both decisions were long overdue. I was not a party to the decision to bring ladies into the Corps of Cadets. That decision had been made before I got here. I3ut I applauded it. If I had been here, I would have supported it.” Six weeks after Simpson began his second career, women for the first time entered the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets. At that time women had not been admitted to any of the military academies. Not Military To understand what happened in the following years so that we may reconcile the Simpson of 1974 with the Simpson who authored the smoking-gun memo we must first understand that, despite all appearances, the Corps is not a military organization. As Simpson explained, “The Corps of Cadets sees themselves as a military organization, but they are really not. They are an organization organized along military lines.” In fact, only about fifty-five percent of the upperclassmen are “on contract.” They will be commissioned as service officers upon graduation. The remainder are called Drill and Ceremony Cadets. They are in the Corps for other reasons. So, nearly half of those who call themselves Old Army are not headed for professional military service. If you ask them why they choose to wear uniforms every day and march around in a highly regimented fraternity, the answer you are likely to get comes in three loaded words: “For good bull.” What those three words mean is another story. The point is that the Corps is not a military academy. As Simpson says, “The Corps is a student organization, be it a very large one and a very influential one, but nevertheless a student organization.” So, when Simpson finds in 1974 that Corps dining habits are downright “embarrassing” he could not, as he might in the Marine Corps, order things shipshape by sundown. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7 though none so large and promi ‘