The Battalion. (College Station, Tex.) 1893-current, April 30, 1987, Image 11

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

    Thursday, April 30, 1987/The Battalion/Page 11
she wears
i men may
; comfortable
ie pants don't
ly as much,
ctive,” Crider
em was the
npression that
d to wear
1 wrong.”
s men’s
ys one cadet
:d to women
:ause it was
in the Corps
are isolated
■sent the belief
lore an
she says,
ys male-
he Corps has
new dorm
y go down as a
mien) had a lot
1 one reason-
ent halls with
ts in the
tays. “That
nale and
feeling that
f the Corpsof
eater than
1 in separate
.er civilian
the Corps
male unit into
male units in
move could he
roved the
ems between
inits, and it has
e relations in
ng in Dorm 5
: Corps; we had
igh to the men
nent to be pan
s. “We were in
nd we did our
ught were
now. Now that
>ee how it
/een men and
item from the
low each other
ause the men
nto First
cow,” Simmon!
want us over
t us in their
lat we’re here,
ecause were
ittalion. Alotof
now; they're
toto by Bill Hufit
First women to enter Corps
met unexpected opposition
lie long, hard-fought
battle for supporters
I of female enrollment
was over in 1963, but
the war was just
beginning for women
who braved entering the Corps of
The August 28, 1974 Battalion
ran this headline: “Corps readies for
women cadets — Sixty women
expected as ‘day ducks’ in outfit W-
Fifty-one women entered the
Corps — two juniors, six
sophomores and 43 freshmen. All
the women were considered “fish”
Photo courtesy of the Texas Aggie
Claire-Jean (Atmar)
Korzenewski, Class of ’77,
marches with YV-1 in the
early days of the unit.
regardless of their classification. The
women’s unit, W-1, was called a
“day-duck” outfit because the
women didn’t live together as a unit
on campus. Instead, the women met
daily for drills, sports and evening
study periods.
Roxie Pranglin, Class of’78,
became one of the original 51
women to enter the Corps of Cadets
in 1974. She doesn’t recall any of the
original women cadets being
revolutionary. Most didn’t even
realize they were doing something
controversial, she says.
Pranglin returned to A&M in
1980 to become the assistant area
coordinator for the central area and
served as Corps area coordinator for
two years before leaving in the
summer of 1985 to become the
associate director of resident life at
Baylor University.
The first semester the women
were identified by only the
traditional black Corps name tag;
they wore civilian clothes. A
uniform, designed during the
summer of 19/4 by one of the
pending female cadets, was used as a
model for the uniforms received in
spring 1975.
“It was kind of a make-shift
operation,” Pranglin says. “We
didn’t have any uniforms for that
first semester. We all lived different
places on campus or off campus.”
Only about 25 of the original 51
women made it through the first
year, she recalled. Pranglin survived
ner four-year Corps experience.
“There was a large dropout rate
the first month because a lot of
women did not really understand
what it was going to be about,” she
says. “They thought it was just going
to be ROTC. And also the attitudes
and experiences we encountered on
campus were often discouraging.”
The uniforms issued consisted of
one straight khaki skirt, one khaki
shirt similar to the mens, one pair of
black walking shoes, and army
fatigues and combat boots to be
worn during drills. Black berets and
matching purses were added, along
with grey Corps sweatsuits. Since the
clothing was limited, the women
wore uniforms Monday to
Wednesday and had them cleaned at
the end of the week. It was, at least, a
By Fall 1975, the women received
a full wardrobe of uniforms.
Upperclassmen were blessed with
“midnights,” dark green fitted shirts
worn by juniors and seniors on
special occasions.
Though women were starting to
look like they belonged in the Corps,
many didn’t feel like it.
“It was difficult at first because we
were new and people weren’t used to
seeing women in the Corps,”
Pranglin recalled. “It was difficult in
terms of how we dealt with male
Corps members — and the rest of
the campus was not overly friendly
at times.
“Some people used just overt
rudeness, calling us names or
whatever. In the Corps, it was
refusing to whip out to you or if you
whipped out to an upper-classman
they would say, ‘Get away from me. I
don’t want to meet you.’ That was
kind of embarrassing because there
was usually a large group of people
that would make a big stink about
Pranglin says there was a lot of
hazing the first few years, but
concluded that attitudes toward the
women cadets on the whole got
better each year.
Claire-Jean (Atmar) Korzenewski,
Class of’77, entered the Corps as a
sophomore in 1974. Korzenewski
agrees with Pranglin that the
treatment of women got better each
year, but she attributes the hazing
problems to isolated cadets and
some units instead of the Corps as a
“Upperclassmen didn’t want to
meet us and a lot of underclassmen
were directed not to associate with
us,” she says. “There were only a few
outfits that did that, though.
“It pretty much boiled down to
this: You knew who your friends
were. Even if they did like you,
sometimes their principals stopped
them from associating with you.
There was a lot of upperclassmen
who didn’t approve of women being
in the Corps.”
When you got to know the male
cadets on a non-Corps basis, she
says, they dropped their military
mask and were usually gentlemen.
Korzenewski is living proof of the
improved relationships between
male and female Corps members —
September, 1974: The women of W-l make A&M history by lining up for their first formation as
a unit. Cadets from male units served as commanding officers during the first semesters of the
unit’s existence. The women didn’t receive Corps uniforms until spring 1975.
she married former cadet Alex
Korzenewski, Class of’76.
“I would say the majority of them
(men in Corps) didn’t want them
(women) there,” Mr. Korzenewski
says. “There were some that were
really open minded about it.
“There were some hard feelings
about it, mostly among the hard
core and red-ass outfits. That feeling
was mainly set by the
upperclassmen; they kind of set the
tone for how the underclassmen
would treat the women.”
The attitude most cadets had
toward women was driven by the
leadership of the upperclassmen, he
The former cadet says: “I
happened to be associated with a
bunch of buddies who were among
the red-asses in the Corps. They
were definitely to the right of the
center, as far as where the Corps’
sentiments were, hut they accepted
Claire-Jean for what she was. They
just didn’t welcome her with open
arms into the Corps.
“Most of the bad sentiments —
and good sentiments — toward the
women were driven by the
leadership within the individual
outfits. Most of our juniors and
seniors set the tone for it, I felt like.
Most of the male freshmen didn’t
get involved too much.”
Women were slowly accepted by
the men, he says, and dating
between the men and women cadets
helped to bond friendships between
the two factions.
“It was just quietly accepted,” he
remarks. “Again there were some
die-hards, but after about two or
three years the women just kind of
blended right in.
“There was no question in
anybody’s mind as far as how the
Trigon (the Corps’ administration)
stood on women in the Corps. They
supported it and did their best to
An article in the May 1976 Texas
Aggie quoted the then assistant vice
president for student services and
supervisor of military programs as
saying University administrators
expected animosity among the male
“We recognize that there would
be a great deal of resentment on the
part of the male cadets,” said Gen.
Ormond Simpson, Class of’36.
“Realistically, it will take four years
for that resentment to fade away.”
Almost three years later, the
treatment of the women cadets was
still a problem. In a February 1979
article in The Battalion, then Corps
Commander Bob Kamensky was
quoted as saying, “Some men have
acted unbecoming of a cadet toward
a woman. It’s mostly been verbal
abuse and the slighting of privileges.
For instance, some seniors have
refused to meet or acknowledge the
existence of Waggies.”
Past articles from The Battalion
and the Bryan-College Station Eagle
report several forms of hazing used
against the women cadets. Many
hazing tactics were subtle and often
overlooked, such as: men refusing to
meet women, upperclassmen
repeatedly asking women what
outfit they were in (to which cadets
must respond with their company
yell) so many times that it took more
than 10 minutes to make it across the
Quadrangle; and upperclassmen
asking women more than the usual
amount of “campusology” questions
dealing with A&M’s history and
verbal insults. One women cadet
commented that these tactics were
common among male and female
“fish,” but were asked of women
with a more noticeable frequency.
More serious hazing tactics
included the fire-bombing of spirit
signs, being spat on, the dumping of
pig manure in women dorms and
rocks being thrown through
Discrimination suit opened new doors
lentgrofs 1979 cry for action divided Corps, student body
I t all started with what
looked likejust
another letter to the
editor in The
Battalion on Jan. 23,
1979: “Women
overlooked in Corps units.”
Melanie S. Zentgraf, Class of’80,
wrote a letter referring to the
representation of Texas A&M by the
Corps of Cadets at the Jan. 16, 1979,
inauguration of Gov. Bill Clements;
the ceremony was attended by the
Ross Volunteers, the Aggie Band
land Parson’s Mounted Cavalry.
Zentgraf wrote: “The only
problem I can see with this type of
representation is the fact that no
women were present among the
ranks of any of these three
organizations. Women are eligible to
apply for these organizations, but
the applications are not by any
means taken seriously.”
In her letter, Zentgraf indirectly
put out a battle cry for women to
take action. She ended with this:
“Yet, the onlooker at the
inauguration would not be aware,
without prior knowledge of A&M,
that women attend this University.
As controversial letters usually do,
Zentgrafs letter triggered a flood of
responses to The Battalion. The
next day’s issue contained two letters
refuting Zentgrafs claim. One was
sympathetic and the other, hostile.
A male student, Class of’79, wrote
ashort but spunky rebuttal:
“This short note is directed to
Miss Overlooked.’ To start with, the
Ross Volunteers, Aggie Band and
Parson’s Cavalry are not intended
forwomen (I know that really burns
you up).
“Second and most important —
no!, women at T exas A&M do not,
and I hope never will, take a back
seat to anyone. However ‘waggies’
and queers’ will, no doubt, never be
in the back seat but in the trunk at
Texas A&M.”
Aletter on Jan. 25, 1979,
suggested that Zentgraf become a
model, stewardess or Dallas Cowboy
cheerleader if she felt the Corps was
not fair.
But Gary R. Brock, a fellow cadet
in the Class of’80, stood up for
Zentgraf in ajan. 26, 1979, letter:
“We should stand by the Waggies,
not hate them. Surely we men in the
Corps are not so insecure in our
masculinity that we are afraid to
treat Waggies like human beings. ...
I will be proud to wear my boots side
by side with a Waggie in boots.”
The onset of letters continued for
months after Zentgrafs letter.
People not only criticized and
defended Zentgraf, they attacked
each other’s stance. The issue began
to split the Corps of Cadets and the
student body; arguments expanded
to include the issue of women even
being in the Corps.
A Feb. 1, 1979, column in The
Battalion summed up the
discrimination problem and called
for action.
Then Battalion editor Kim Tyson
said the roots for Zentgraf s claim
went much deeper than the
governor’s inauguration ceremony.
“This frustration stems from acts
like finding an obscene note on your
door, having to guard your
dormitory against pig manure
attacks, hearing rude remarks when
you pass to go to dinner, or passing
lowerclassmen who refuse to
recognize you as one of your Corps
nothing new — it’s happened long
before the ‘Melanie Zentgraf letter’
stirred a number of readers to come
out for or against ‘Waggies’ or their
membership in certain Corps
The last two paragraphs of
Tyson’s column foreshadowed the
events of the near future: “Is it
going to take a lawsuit much like the
one that let women into the school to
settle it?
The women have heard enough
talk — they deserve some action.”
Action is what the cadets got.
The Brazos Civil Liberties Union,
prompted by Melanie Zentgraf,
started investigating sex
discrimination in the Corps. The
investigation ended in a lawsuit,
filed May 1 1, 1979, alleging
discrimination against female cadets
by Texas A&M University and its
Corps of Cadets. The suit was
supported by the Brazos County and
Houston chapters of the American
Civil Liberties Union.
A May 13, 1979, headline in the
Houston Post read: “Turmoil at
Texas A&M: Aggie Corps split by
charges of discrimination.”
According to a May 16, 1979
article in The Battalion, the suit
“Challenges the policies, practices
and customs of Texas A&M
University and the Corps of Cadets
in denying membership in various
groups and organizations to female
cadets solely on the basis of sex.
“The groups include the Brigade
Color Guard, Parson’s Mounted
Cavalry, the Ross Volunteers, the
Aggie Band, the Fish Drill Team
and Rudder’s Rangers.”
Tension came to a head on May 4,
1979, when A&M President Jarvis E.
Miller refused to shake Zentgrafs
hand after she received her diploma.
The Zentgraf suit came to an end
about five years later with a
settlement requiring A&M to
encourage women to participate in
the male-dominated Corps activities.
James R. Woodall, Class of’50,
and the Corps commandant at the
time of the suit, said, “I think the
Zentgraf case probably set the whole
Photo by Tracy Staton
situation back a few years. I think it
caused a lot of resentment that was
really unnecessary.”
In an April 18, 1985, Battalion
article about her selection as
administrative sergeant, Amanda
Schubert, the highest ranking
woman in the Corps, said: “When
the case came up, there was a lot of
hostility and negative reaction
toward the women. It was focused at
the wrong people.”
Roxie Pranglin, a cadet at the
same time as Zentgraf, says she
believes the lawsuit was beneficial to
women in the Corps.
In a May 15, 1985, article in the
Houston Post, Pranglin, a former
Corps area coordinator said, “I think
the lawsuit was helpful. I definitely
saw a turn in the women’s role.
Melanie was not radical at all. She
deserved the opportunities. A lot of
us never tried.”
During a telephone interview with
Pranglin, now working at Baylor
University, she said: “I really felt like
the real changes that I could
perceive in terms of coming back
and working at A&M seemed to be
around 1980 when there was a
major breakthrough. I don’t know
why. Maybe it was the incoming
students in the Corps who had a
better attitude about women in
general. Or maybe the climate of the
University was changing at that time
from a ‘good of boy system’ into a
more kind of urban university.”
These Battalion headlines tell the
rest of the story:
• April 18, 1985 — “Corps Staff
names first woman officer in ’85-86”
• July 10, 1985 — “Aggie Band
gets three female recruits”
• Oct. 8, 1985 — “Ross
Volunteers induct 2 women: A&M
group breaks tradition”
• May 5, 1986 — “Woman chosen
deputy commander: Wilkinson,
Schubert to lead A&M Corps”
Anita Wood, a senior
community health major,
prefers boot pants to the
boot skirts worn by most
senior female cadets.
Junior biomedical science major Dawn Simmons, commander
of W-l, assembles an M-16 during a training exercise with
Rudder’s Rangers earlier this month. Photo by Bill Hughes