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Panning the room, you see a sea of young men in khaki uniforms, their hair shorn mercilessly close to their skulls.They wolf down food; they rise to bark orders or jump to respond to them; they march in formation to their seats.Duncan Dining Hall looks like a place built for modern-day Olympians, which is exactly the impression it was designed to create.It is a cavernous, harshly lit space deep in the heart of Aggieland, at south end of the Quad, where Texas A&M’s corps of cadets dwells.The khaki uniforms fit uneasily across these cadets’ chests, and they look sheepish, rather than sunny, when marching and chanting as they tote their dinner trays with their arms extending at precisely a ninety-degree angle from their bodies.They look as if they would rather not have to stand and recite another moment in A&M’s glorious campusology; they look, in fact, as if they would rather not be here at all.
“But the only time that is called discrimination is when it’s done to women.” I WANTED TO BELIEVE THIS WAS AN ACCIDENT,” Carolyn Muckley says grimly, referring to the day a male cadet kicked her in the back, near her kidneys. Muckley, who is 22 and a fifth-year senior who graduated from the corps last spring, was sitting on the grass in a picnic area where she had just finished grading a group of cadets doing sit-ups for a fitness test.
As befits a member of the Reserved Officers Training Corps, she was dressed in camouflage trousers, lightweight combat boots, and a black T-shirt that said “Army” in gold letters.
The blow from behind was so severe that she pitched forward. Muckley turned around in time to see a young man she recognized as a member of the corps.
These cadets are the seventy or so women warriors at Texas A&M, and they are not alone in wishing that they could be elsewhere.
Many of the 1,880 men here in Duncan regard the women not as colleagues, nor even as outsiders, but as outright enemies in a battle that is completely different from the male high jinks that are so much a part of Aggie tradition.The charges have sent the corpsmen—so secure until now about the world and their place in it—into a very un-Aggielike funk.