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Service Academy Exchange Program: It’s All Fun and Games Until CIC Time

Every year, a handful of Midshipmen and Cadets swap places for the semester, and for two weeks out of the fall, it’s a no-holds-barred-free-for-all of tomfoolery against them

We are already well on our way to another great Air Force-Navy week this year. I’ve seen Mids doing carrier landings in the hallway, which are always a classic!

We got vending machines blocking doors!

Speaking of which, when did they get vending machines in Bancroft Hall? Either a powerlifter made some moves or the last real Plebe Summer has long since come and gone...

We’ve even got Plebe football players scared that what is actually taking place is The Purge...

I’m telling you, it’s off to its usual fast start, and I’m sure, if it hasn’t already, it will be locked up by tonight. Someone will take it too far, things will get a little too out of hand, and all fun will be secured.

And who might be taken the brunt of all of this? Well, aside from the usual upperclassmen that no one likes, the detailer you’ve been waiting to get back at for three months, and the training staff that’s pushed every one just a little too far, the default for all of this is the exchange cadet.

Before I explain what exactly is going on and what an exchange cadet is, I would like to set the stage for a moment.

We’ve got the Red River Rivalry going on this week as well at the Cotton Bowl and there is certainly no love lost between the Longhorns and Sooners or their fans. Now imagine if every fall, a dozen junior undergraduate students from the two schools decided to swap places.

Seems reasonable enough.

Perhaps you have a stage five clinger you just can’t quite seem to escape in Austin. You figure, hey, our school has this program in place where I can head on up to Norman for the fall. It’s not tornado season yet. Everything should be fine.

I mean, no way in hell would I ever be caught dead in crimson, but I’ll wear a nice neutral blue or perhaps some green and try and blend in. No one will even know the difference. Then, you take a look at the fine print just to be safe.

Says here, I’m only allowed to wear burnt orange. EVERY SINGLE DAY. TO EVERY SINGLE CLASS.

Hmm...

Well, at least I’ll just get an apartment out in town. As long as I can get from class to my apartment, I should avoid too much harassment.

Says here, I must live in a frat house or sorority house for the entire semester with the entire Texas student body.

Okay...

At the very least, I’ll just skip out early and get a head start on my drive to Dallas for the big game, spend some time eating fried oreos at the state fair, and just wait for all of the heightened rivalry week tensions to die down.

Says here, I must remain in the frat house for the entire Red River Showdown week.

Umm...

I’m sure the pledges there have other important things to take care of besides harassing me, though.

Huh, what do you know. Says here they are actually encouraged to take out their semester long, pent up frustration on me, the lone UT fan with nowhere to hide, living among a sea of Sooners faithful.

I’m beginning to question this decision...

But the administration couldn’t possibly support this, right? Oh, says here that not only are some of my teachers going to get in on the action, but the higher ups actually encourage the shenanigans within reason.

No thanks!

I mean, who in their right mind would decide that sounds like a fun time? But each year, that’s exactly what happens between the three service academies (and Coast Guard).

A handful of second class (junior) Midshipmen and Cadets switch places each semester. They continue to wear their service’s uniforms. They live in the massive dormitory complex with everyone else. They know full well that come Air Force, Army, or Navy week, they are going to be the brunt of numerous pranks, from having all of their uniforms stolen, to having their furniture moved outside, to having their room filled with sand and their bed turned into a beach, to someone buying fox piss and putting it in their closet, to shaving cream bombs through the ceiling, and the list goes on and on. Generally, the freshmen are the ones pulling these pranks with encouragement from the upperclassmen. And, for the most part, the administration is on board.

That’s not to say they don’t have rules of engagement and that someone won’t do something stupid that crosses the line and ruins the fun for everyone else. It happens nearly every year. But as an exchange cadet, you know that risk full well, and take it.

And, perhaps the real kicker...it’s actually pretty competitive to get a spot. Or at least it was when I was a Mid. People want to see what life is like in West Point in December (It’s gray and bleak for those who were wondering). In fact, my roommate did the exchange program with West Point, and we got stuck with a USMA exchange cadet in our room and boy, oh boy, do I have some stories for Army week (Thanks a lot Pete). And several of my other friends did the program as well.

Not me.

I mean, I had a bad breakup around that time and wanted to get away, but I chose the more traditional route. I did a semester in Egypt instead. I figure, I’ll take my chances over there. I’m sure there will be some people who hate me. I don’t think it would go well for me if those people got a hold of me. But, you’re not gonna catch me getting hazed by some freshmen Zoomies out in Colorado. Forget that!

I guess the one saving grace for the exchange cadets and mids is that sometimes they pull off some epic, elaborate pranks of their own.

So, we are curious here at AAE. Would you do a semester at your rival school? What would you expect the pranks to be like against you if you did?

I can only imagine this would go over poorly most other places...