Richmond News Leader, April 16, 1952

VPI Group Will Consider Corps Ban Plea on Monday

The military committee of Virginia Polytechnic Institute's board of visitors will meet in Roanoke Monday to consider recommendations for action on recent demands that the school's corps of cadets be abolished.

Committee Chairman Vernon Eberwine, of Suffolk, declined to specify today the action his group contemplates, but he said the committee will "make some important suggestions for improving the situation" and for "eliminating friction" between those who favor the corps and those who oppose its continuance.

He ascribed recent attacks on the corps, its composition and its activities as due to "a lack of cooperation between the Army, the faculty and the student body generally."

The meeting of the military committee precedes by one day the annual meeting of the board of visitors at Radford. It is expected that a portion of the committee's recommendations to the board will deal with an extension of the options under which students may accept or decline membership in the corps.

Questions Right
At least one member of the military committee, J. P. Fishburn, of Roanoke, has said publicly that the right of the school to require membership in the corps is open to question.

He declined to elaborate on the question today, but warned that the student body might be sharply reduced in number unless present mandatory corps membership requirements are modified. He suggested that the insatiate might well wait until present tensions are eased before attempting such a reform.

Currently, VPI requires membership in the cadet corps of all except graduate students, women students, those with physical disabilities and a limited number of entering day students. The option to join or not to join the corps is open to married students, veterans, students over 21 years of age and transfer students in the sophomore, junior and senior classes.

In recent years, school authorities say, large numbers of students in the latter categories have excised their option not to join the corps, with the result that the civilian student body, once a decided minority, has grown to substantial size.

Friction Between Groups
Friction between two groups--- coupled with rumors that the corps would be abolished--- prompted President Walter S. Newman late last year to issue a statement denying that any plan was under consideration "to do away with the corps." Dr. Newman declared:

"Under present conditions, it would be unwise even to consider a three-hour ROTC program in lieu of the present corps of cadets."

Early this month, posters bearing the words, "The Corps Must Go," were found plastered on virtually all buildings of the school. A. C. Hicks, editor of the student newspaper, "The Virginia Tech," wrote that there are "strong waves of discontent and dissatisfaction, not only within each class in the corps, but within the faculty also."

More recently, the student newspaper reported a growing sentiment on the campus for a merger of the cadet and civilian student governments. The paper said that the proposal for a single student government had been endorsed by company commanders of the corps and by both the civilian and cadet student body presidents.

VPI is one of the few land-grant colleges in the nation which maintains a full-time corps of cadets. The prestige attaching to the corps traditionally has given its members a dominant position on the campus.