University Archive
Virginia Tech


The First Women in the Corps of Cadets

Oral History Interview with

Emily Pillsbury Davis


Member of the Original "L" Squadron


Date of interview: November 17, 1998
Location of interview: Media Building sound booth, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia
Interviewer: Tamara Kennelly
Transcriber: Stacie Swain
[Begin Tape 1, side 1]

Kennelly: Where are you from Emily?

Davis: I'm originally from Northern Virginia. I was born in Fort Belvoir.

Kennelly: Where did you go to high school?

Davis: My father was in the service, but we moved around, and we ended up in Northern Virginia, and I went to West Springfield High School and James W. Robinson High School, both in Northern Virginia.

Kennelly: So your father was in the service. What did he do?

Davis: Yes, he was a colonel in the army, and we moved around quite a bit, and my mother did the colonel's wife thing, and that's how we ended up in Northern Virginia at the time I was going to college.

Kennelly: So the military service was a big part of your life growing up?

Davis: Oh yes, all the way. In fact my whole family went into the service. My brother went to West Point, and my sister was in the Women's Army Corps. She was in the first group that was in the Women's Corps. My other brother was in the Coast Guard Academy, and I went to ROTC here at Tech.

Kennelly: Where did your sister go to school?

Davis: She went to the University of New Hampshire because my father came into the military from New Hampshire, so that was their home of record. He came into the service in 1941 from New Hampshire.

Kennelly: Where are you in the family?

Davis: I am the fourth; I'm the youngest. So they were all in the service before I was.

Kennelly: And it was just something you felt you always wanted to do?

Davis: No, not necessarily. In fact, I didn't even think about joining ROTC until I came down here for orientation, and they said they were starting this new program, and they were admitting women into the Corps of Cadets, and I thought, that's really neat. So I went home and thought about it and came back down in August and signed up. So no, it wasn't in the plan; it just evolved.

Kennelly: So you went to orientation and something struck you?

Davis: Well they were talking about starting this new thing, and it seemed exciting. It seemed interesting. I already had a familiarization with the military background, and it seemed really appealing to me to try this and to do this.

Kennelly: Was it just a general thing they were talking to the students about?

Davis: Yes, it was mentioned in passing actually. And I called down to the commandant's office and asked if there were any spaces left, and he laughed because they were just starting it, and it was very new and very novel, and he said, "Absolutely."

The day I decided was my mother's birthday, and she said so we're going to Tech, and I said, "Yes, I don't want to miss out. I want to join." So we drove down that day, and I spoke with who was at the time Colonel Acuff, and signed up. I signed up in the summer before we moved.

Kennelly: Why did you decide to go to Tech?

Davis: I had applied to Madison, Tech, George Mason, William and Mary, and a lot of schools, and I went looking. I didn't have direction yet as to what I wanted to do, and Tech was a big school. It had a diverse population. It had a large staff of professors and college choices, so I knew there was room to move around if I decided to change my major. But it was atmosphere.

One of the things I looked at was libraries. I really like researching in libraries. The other thing was just atmosphere. When we came and visited Tech, the people, the students, the faculty, the town was very open and friendly. It matched my personality, and it matched what I wanted to do. The library was great, and they've improved that since I came so that was a real plus.

And the opportunity to be in the Corps was a big draw, because that wasn't offered anywhere else in the country. It was a brand new program. It was chartered people. It was pioneering. It was a challenge that I really wanted to be involved in. So all of that really went into my final decision to come to Tech.

Kennelly: Were they recruiting women? Offering special scholarships?

Davis: No, that didn't happen for another year. They didn't offer any scholarships to freshman until our sophomore year. I don't know about the upperclassmen. We were allowed to apply the spring of our freshman year for the sophomore year. But no, that wasn't a draw at that point.

They were just organizing the initial steps to get people in. They had Capt. Shipman who was an air force captain who was brought on board, and she was to help with the liaison and the coordination with the ROTC department. And they had a vision, but they didn't have everything nailed down. It was an evolving process. It was all so new, and everything that happened in those days was just from day to day. Even our uniform, even what we were doing and where we were, and what our roles were. Everything was evolving, and that first year was a real test.

There was a lot of stuff that had never been addressed, even when I went down to meet Col. Acuff at the time I was asking questions like, "Are there regulations about the colors of the sheets?" I didn't know if I brought down flowered sheets was I going to be drummed out or you know... He started laughing and said that question hadn't been asked, and he would have to check, but he didn't think there was any restriction to the color of the sheets. I knew my brother had been through West Point, and there was a strict code to the way a room was supposed to look, and how clothes were hung in the closet, and what was done. So I probably asked more questions along those lines than most women did. And they weren't ready to answer them. They hadn't thought about it yet. So they had to kind of grow as we did too in the program.

Kennelly: So was there a code about what kind of sheets to use or how your room was supposed to look?

Davis: Oh, yes. Not the kind of sheets. That hadn't occurred to them. Originally when the Corps was the university, there was a laundry service, and the sheets were provided, but as the Corps grew smaller, and the university opened up for civilians, people put their rooms the way they wanted. There were regulations on how your books were to be on the stand. They had to go in descending height, which to me was annoying, because I wanted to put a biology book next to a biology book not next to a chemistry book. But that's okay.

The closet was arranged with civilian clothes on one side and military clothes on the other, and they were grouped accordingly, like blouses were together, and skirts were together, and pants were together, and I still do that to this day. My closet today is really pretty funny. I have my summer and my winter and my dresses in one section. I still arrange my closet the same way. Drawers were not checked, but suggested to be neat. And the bed had to be made, and it had to be made to specifications. Yes, your room had requirements, and this was checked each morning. Col. Marin, he was a military colonel, this was a military officer, who came around to the dorms and did room inspections every morning. You would get demerits if your room was not presentable and not correct.

Kennelly: A military officer would do room checks, not a cadet officer?

Davis: Well, actually a fellow cadet would be in there checking first.

Kennelly: So a male cadet would be checking the rooms?

Davis: Not the first year. No, because our dorm was an entity to itself. We were in the first floor of Monteith Hall, were one half of Monteith, because there were only 25 of us. And the extra rooms we used for a staff room and a study hall and that kind of thing. It was all women. Monteith was a women's dorm, so cadets were in the lower first half, and civilians were in the other half of the first floor and then the upper floors. So we were separate. At that time there were male cadets in Brodie and Rasche, and they had all of Brodie and half of Rasche hall.

That changed in 1979, two years after we left. In '79 they were integrated into units; they were housed with their unit. In '73 the "L" Squadron was in the first floor of Monteith. We were together as a unit. "A" Company would've been on one floor of Brodie, and "B" on another, and "C" on another. They were all housed as a unit because you work together as a unit.

Kennelly: You were actually in a dorm with civilians. Was there much intermingling with the civilians or did you pretty much stay separate?

Davis: Well we all shared the basement and the lounge. The basement had the stove, and girls like to cook. And if it was a football weekend, we'd be fixing cookies down there, and we would mingle in that sense. Or we would be downstairs, and we'd be making banners for the homecoming parade, or we did a float for the parade. So we mingled in that sense, but our schedules were incredible. We not only had our classes, but had countless meetings to organize.

It was a year of exploration. It was a year of trying to figure out what we were doing and how we were supposed to interact and what to do. And we had meeting after meeting. We would start hall meetings, and we would be discussing everything from how we were supposed to march, what we were supposed to know, where we were suppose to be, how we were supposed to dress, what our uniforms were going to be. Everything was evolving. This was not in place.

When we started, we didn't even know the shoes we were going to be wearing. The stuff was not uniform issued. Capt. Shipman was helping design some of this stuff, and she was designing based on the air force way of doing things. But we started with a double knit skirt and a white blouse, and then we added the jacket that matched the skirt, and then we added the tab, and it went on and on. They tried to modify the uniform based on what we're doing.

I have a letter from Col. Acuff discussing the rain gear. When I was commander, he requested that we move to the military men's raincoat. We had problems with the integration of these uniform parts, they would call a certain uniform, and we wouldn't have a matching whatever it was to wear. And they would cite us for not being in the correct uniform, and I would go to commander's meetings and say we don't have that part of our uniform, and it would just be hysterical.

Kennelly: When you say they would "call us," who is the "they" you are referring to?

Davis: At that time it would be the group in the battalion--upperclassmen. The Corps is run by the students. The commandant's staff and the ROTC staff provide the guidance and instruction. The ROTC military men teach the courses you would take freshman through senior year. The commandant staff is over the Corps but is run by the members of the Corps, the cadet colonels, captains, majors. So there is a rank system in structure that goes by class.

Freshmen wouldn't necessarily have rank until probably sophomore year. Then sophomores would have certain positions and rank. Juniors would have certain positions and rank and responsibilities. And seniors would be running the Corps. They would either be running their individual units, or they would be on the staffs that would run all the units. Like at the time, the freshmen year, there were four companies in the battalion, A, B, C, and D. And they were headed by a battalion staff.

So there would be--"A" Company would have it's structure and all of its personnel, and their commander would report to the battalion commander, and B would be the same way. So four of the units were the battalion, and four of the units were the group. It's not structured like that now, but that's how it was when we came. Then there is the band, and they were a separate entity in themselves, the Highty Tighties.

Then "L" Squadron, they didn't know where to put us. They didn't know to put us in the group, in the battalion. They didn't know to keep us separate, so what they did is they provided a liaison officer who was from the group staff, and they attached us to the group, because we were a squadron. That's probably because Capt. Chitler was an air force person, so she was closely lined with us.

Kennelly: So you had one female officer who was Capt. Chitler, and other than that it was working with the existing male structure?

Davis: Yes.

Kennelly: When you talk about you having to wear certain articles would that be for different...

Davis: There was a battalion and a group, and then there was a regimental staff, so the battalion and the group leaders would report to the regimental staff, so they would be at the top. The regimental staff would plan the year, being responsible for the process for the entire year, and if it was a cold day, they would call the uniform for the day. Well we didn't always have a matching uniform to match the uniform of the day. They would call overcoats, well we didn't physically have overcoats.

We went down to Leggetts... I was on the uniform committee freshmen year. We found a nice blue, three-quarter length, maxi overcoat. I remember Lisa Loller and I, and there were several of us that went down there. We picked this nice coat. We came back. We took it to the tailor shop. They changed the buttons and put the Corps buttons on it, and that was our overcoat. We knew that wasn't going to last 'cause seasons change and coats change. So we really needed to find something from a uniform shop that would be a little more permanent, but we didn't have a lot of time. It was winter, and we needed coats. So that is how our coat was found.

Kennelly: And they expected you to get that all together?

Davis: Well, they didn't think about it, and we were cold. It boiled down to we were a little proactive because we had to move on this. So that's where some of this came from. We just physically had to do it.

Kennelly: I had noticed in one memo that there was a request for ear muffs?

Davis: We were freezing! The coat did not have a hood, and it did not have ear protection. It was cold, but it was a long coat, and it was the best we could do at the time. There was another fight over umbrellas. We wanted them because our raincoats didn't have hoods either, and see they had a hat with a brim. We had a barrette which was felt, so they didn't understand that when we got out in the rain our barrette died, and they had a hat with a plastic cover and a brim. We didn't have that. Some of these things were addressed as the years went on, and they ended up wearing the same uniform that the men wear. In the beginning it was a struggle.

Kennelly: Did you ever get the ear muffs?

Davis: No, we never got the ear muffs, or the umbrellas. We didn't always win. We put up a fight, but didn't always win. The shoes was another thing. They told us to come down with black loafers. Well, there's a pretty wide range of black loafers. So the shoes weren't uniform, and the men thought this was atrocious. We didn't have matching shoes. So they decided we should be in pumps, black pumps. So we're walking around campus in black pumps killing our feet, thinking we need to be on the uniform committee because we need to do something about the choices they are making for us.

So that's when we got a little more proactive, and formed our uniform committee and went to the commandant with our suggestions. I know this wasn't on his docket of things to think about, but he was very accommodating. He really did take to heart the requests and suggestions from the women, 'cause he wanted this to work. He wanted us to be integrated; he wanted it to work. He was a fine man and tried very hard to see all sides and bring us in with little frustration and little problems as we could have. I always felt he was a good listener, and he was determined to make it work.

Kennelly: Who was this?

Davis: Colonel Acuff. And Col. McCann and Col. Marin--they were the king pins in the commandant's office. My view of it--there may have been other people that did a lot of things that I didn't know about, but from my interaction and the chair I sat in, those were the people that were helping to make it work.

Kennelly: So do you have any notion of why they decided to make it work?

Davis: That wasn't really stated. I would venture to say that the Corps enrollment was declining tremendously. We were down 300 when we came in, in the '70's. I think that they recognized that it was going to happen anyway, and they might as well get on board. I don't know. I wasn't in any of the strategy Corps meetings. I was just a freshman coming in, excited and that kind of thing. I wasn't in on the planning.

But I was there my sophomore year when they were looking at the women coming into the academy in 1975, and they sent representatives down. I was a sergeant my sophomore year, and I spoke with representatives from the Air Force Academy and from the United States Military Academy West Point, and they came down to interview us on the Military Ball weekend, and they were asking questions mostly to men, but they did take time out and did interview me. I don't know who else they interviewed, as to how the integration worked. How could they do it more smoothly?

I did speak to four gentlemen at length, about what we did. It helped that my brother was teaching at West Point at the time, and the other one was in the Coast Guard Academy at the time, and so I understood a lot of where they were coming from. I already had a working knowledge of how they worked even though I wasn't in their system. I was able to head them off on potential problems, I hope. I hope that they took some of these suggestions. I know that my brother said they did take to heart what we said, I don't know if it was me or the men they listened to. But they did try to make things go more smoothly.

They did not agree with having us separate. They saw that separation as a problem to unity in the ranks, and as it turns out, we did too. We found out that it was not a good way to do it. It was better to integrate, and that's why the change was made in Tech too. But we learned from doing it and trying it that way, and they came to that conclusion as they were setting up their program. They did not isolate the women.

Even by my junior year, which was 1976, I was asked to be Commander. There were already seven upperclassmen, and I don't know how I was selected over them because I was not involved in politics. All I know was that I was offered the position, and I accepted the position. And that caused pretty big ripples, because the men--I don't believe that had been done. I don't know for a fact 'cause I didn't do the history the way Col. Temple has done it, but I don't believe that a junior has been pulled up to be a commander ahead of his or her class.

When I went to commanders' meetings, this was a problem, because I was a junior with all seniors. The Corps is based on a class system, and I broke the chain, and it was different for the women who came in the first year. They had to break the chain. They couldn't be a freshman, sophomore, junior because they physically weren't here. So there was an acceptance level of that person coming in. Actually Debbie Noss was a junior coming in. There was an acceptance of her that was easier to take than them pulling me up my junior year without taking one of those seniors.

Now I don't know who made the decision and how I got there. I just did my best job, and I was the ranking officer from the sophomore class, so I was the highest officer. So I was pulled up to do this position, and there was opposition in the beginning, but as I got to work with the other commanders and got to attend the meetings and start to work with them, by the time we finished, it was a very very good relationship, very good working relationship, and they were very respectful of our position and of our needs. They were very willing to work with us.

Kennelly: How was the opposition manifested?

Davis: You were included, you were physically there, but you weren't going to be included.

Kennelly: So they didn't listen to your ideas, and you weren't asked to speak?

Davis: It was an attitude of ignore this and it will go away kind of thing. And I didn't, and as situations arose, I would state my case and be very plain and matter of fact, and as they got to know me and as I got to know them, the relationship worked itself out. It was just people getting together, had a mission, and it worked out just fine.

Kennelly: When you say that the upperclassmen were passed over as the women, do you think it was that they recognized leadership or...?

Davis: Well I think what it was most of them came into the Corps late, and they were not in the original class, and they didn't know the struggles we'd been through. And probably could not have weathered the storm as well in that junior year as well as someone who had been through the ranks. And I think they were looking from a strengthening of the Corps aspect, because those people had come in either their sophomore or junior year, and they had not gone through the process and didn't understand it, so I suspect that's where some of that came from was that they were trying to strengthen the unit and strengthen the program, and they could better do that through someone who had been there that time. That's what I'm thinking.

I think I was the ranking officer of the class, and that was a positive for that position. But I did have leadership abilities, and some of the other people that could have been chosen, I just don't think that they had the tenure. I don't think that they had the time in the Corps that I had. And so there again, I think they were just looking at the program and seeing what was best for the unit. I don't think that they thought that there was going to be so much opposition, 'cause I was already there for a couple of years.

But even in my unit, there was jealousy among some of the women that I was promoted ahead of schedule, because we were all juniors. There were some in the unit that weren't happy about it, but that was not an overwhelming majority. But the people I worked with, Fran and Kim and the folks that I worked with, it was a good relationship. And I think that we had a rocky year from that point 'cause we were trying to work through the class system, and me pulling out of the junior class and being above them in rank that year did rub a couple of them the wrong way.

Kennelly: Would you have trouble getting them to follow....

Davis: Oh they did it, but you knew. You knew that they knew they weren't happy about whatever it was you said. I don't think they were trying to undermine... There was some undercurrents because women were together in this thing. We had very different personalities come into this thing, and women came in for different reasons. Women stayed in for different reasons. And I don't want to name them as clicks, but we did have pockets of people who did line themselves together. Just as you would have in the male units. You have people who will line themselves and work together. And your job as commander and your job as the XO you have to take care of the freshmen program.

But the commander has a lot more to do. The commander has to understand the needs and wants of the Corps, understand the needs and wants of the commandant, understand the needs and wants of the university, and make all that work in their unit. And sometimes some of the people don't understand the role of the commander, where the commander is coming from, and why they are saying what they are saying.

And it was funny because years after my first sergeant asked me, "Why were you so insistent on this policy or that policy?" I said, "Because I had it from above. I had been given directives from above." But she said, "You didn't tell us that. We thought it was your policy." I said, "I felt that you didn't have to know that because you should just know there was a reason I said it." And she said, "It would've been better if we knew that was from above because we didn't like that policy, and we were mad at you."

And I said, "Well in retrospect I should've told you, but frankly I shielded a lot of you from a lot of the complaints and a lot of the problems at the university and Corps level cause I felt you had enough to deal with." And it was interesting that she had the perspective that she said, "If you had told us that it wasn't your policy...," and I said, "What difference does it make whether its mine or not? It was coming down. If I had told you and gotten myself off the hook, that doesn't show any strength of character. To me that doesn't. I don't want to sit here and say, 'Well I don't really like this policy, but you have to do it.' I agreed with the policy. So if I agreed with the policy, it was just as much me saying it as the commandant saying it. Because I understood the reason for the policy, and I understood where it was coming from."

And I said to her, "If you didn't like it, if you disagreed, why didn't you tell me, and I could have explained it to you instead of festering about it and worrying about it?" And that just put the shoe on the other foot, and then they had to say, "I don't know." It's easier just to complain. And I said, "That was what we were all about. We should have had a relationship through our system that would've allowed for that kind of question or whatever."

Kennelly: Is it more the military way to do it the way you did it rather than...?

Davis: Probably. But I think that was my background. And see they were touchy feely friends, and they wanted us to have one big sorority. And that wasn't it. There was a rank. There was a difference between a freshman and a sophomore, and there was difference between a sophomore and a junior, not just in privileges although that was part of it. It was also in responsibility and function in the Corps. And I was trying to foster that and have the women understand that.

And I think that once they got integrated into the male system, they picked that up much better than we did as a group because seniors and juniors, the new freshmen would come in, and you'd just want to be their friend, and that's not the structure of the Corps. You are their friend, but you are their friend after they are an upperclassman. You still have that training to do in the freshman year, and there is a purpose for the various stages, and there is a purpose for the learning process. They will be better commanders if they go through it properly. Rather than if everyone gets together in the dorm and has a big party.

I remember one freshman in our freshman year, and she was given demerits because of the shoeshine, and she comes into her room, and she starts to cry, and she was really upset about this. She said, "I thought I looked nice today. I had my hair done." And its six o'clock in the morning, and she was hysterical about this shoeshine thing. And I said if you need help doing that, I'll teach you how to do it. You just get this thing wet, and you do this. I showed her how to make the circles and how to polish this thing up.

This is a game. We've just got to play the game. Don't take it personally. They are going give you demerits even if you do it perfect. Even if you have all your ducks in a row, they are going to find something wrong. It's the game. It's a head game, and you've got to learn how to play it. After I sat down with her and I showed her how to polish, I had a room, and we were all in there polishing our shoes. My brother had shown me how. He paid me, you know. It was a game to me, and they took it so personally when someone was ragging them out in the hall, and I was just trying to get them through it.

Kennelly: When you say you were protecting them, what kind of things were you protecting them from?

Davis: Well, there were complaints, or problems, or situations where civilians would complain in the commandant's office about behavior of people in the lounge or things like that. And I would go to the commandant, and I would defend the women. So it got to the point where we had regulations about when we could be in the lounge and that kind of thing, and they thought that was very restrictive, and all I was trying to do was keep peace because we had to co-exist in this lounge with civilians too. And we wanted to put our best foot forward, so there was lounge issues and stuff that rules came out about policies, and I was just trying to keep peace.

Kennelly: Could you be more specific about lounge issues?

Davis: Well one thing was public display of affection. There wasn't suppose to be a public display of affection so that would be an issue discussed on university property. They would think that the lounge was an extension of their room, and it wasn't, and that needed to be addressed. It was okay for civilians to be in the lounge and express affection, but it wasn't okay for the cadets. And that was an issue that if we had been in our own dorm wouldn't have come up. But because we had civilian interaction it did come up.

Kennelly: And the civilians were aware of the rules and were complaining?

Davis: The civilians were critical, and we needed to make sure we were above reproach. There was other things. The ________ didn't know what they wanted when the women came, the men in the Corps didn't know. They didn't know if they wanted us to drag, to smile or not smile. They were fickle. They changed their mind on a daily basis. Were we to walk on the right side or the left side? The changes were hour to hour, meal to meal. Most of these things came down at mealtime, so there would be a change in policy. For one thing it was the skirt issue; it just built on itself.

The men drag to the right. Drag is walk in a straight manner. When you are a freshman, there are certain things you do, and dragging is one of them. And that is walking to the far right of any hall or corridor, and staying in a straight line, and use square corners, and you salute an upperclassman. There are certain things a freshman does until they are "turned." So, freshmen boys were called "rats," like at VMI and other places, and we termed ourselves "mice." And the rule was we were supposed to drag too.

So we're over here dragging to the right, and we're going down the hall, and we're doing our thing and trying to follow the rules. We are supposed to look straight ahead, unless you see an upperclassman, and you are supposed to acknowledge that person by a salute. So the next meal we are not to drag on the right. The next meal we are to drag on the right. The next meal we are to smile when we see an upperclassman; the next meal we are not to smile. This would come down through their liaison officer to our commander, and so she would make the decree of what we are supposed to do.

The issue of dragging to the right became a problem when we were going to the meals. You go down the staircase at Schultz, and if you're dragging to the right, and you have skirts on, and the guys are at the bottom of the staircase, there is an obvious view, and they were very short skirts. This was 1973, and these skirts--the rule was two inches above the knee, but let me tell you it seemed a lot shorter. So dragging to the right became an issue. So then we have to drag to the left. Well the upperclassmen were annoyed because they are not used to walking on the right, so they had to pass us to get to the line.

So, it was the little stuff, this went on and on. We can wear hair ribbons; we can't wear hair ribbons. Our hair has to be above the collar; hair has to be below the collar. The rules changed as often as the day changed. You never could keep up. We had meeting after meeting after meeting for them to figure out what they wanted us to do.

And part of the problem was they wanted us to know the freshman information and the cadet manual. They gave us one cadet manual for 18 freshmen. Every male cadet had a cadet manual which were the rules. The excuse was they didn't plan; they didn't have enough. The seven upperclassmen shared two or three cadet manuals, and we had one to share for months. And then they wanted to know why we didn't know the rules. Well 18 of us in our spare time in between meetings and classes and trying to be a freshman in addition to all of this other stuff going on was flat out tricky. So all of this led to a great deal of frustration on the women's part.

We were trying to do what we were told to do, and then they would change. We would do what we knew we should be doing, and we weren't equipped, and so that first year was a real struggle both mentally and physically. And the men never saw it that way. They thought we got off scott free cause we didn't have to do the things the other freshmen did. And I don't know what those were, but in their mind we didn't do it. The rat things. So they didn't understand the rest of the stuff we were going through.

But by the junior and senior year, the men that I knew were very supportive of us. They were very supportive. They had gone through a lot of the same things that we did 'cause they had to integrate with us. So they were very supportive. I can still recall Burt Pool and Bobby Calverton. There were people that made us feel very much a part of the Corps and were supportive of us and understood that we had gone through a lot.

Kennelly: I would like to hear a lot more about this rat system, what it was. So there were no upperclassmen that could abuse you?

Davis: Oh no. There was no hazing. Bracing up would be getting up and putting your arms to your side, your shoulders up, your chin is tucked. Braced up is at a severe position of attention while they are talking to you. You need to be at attention, and they are usually pretty close. But our upperclassmen were having to learn 'cause they didn't go through the system. They didn't go through the rat system. And our upperclassmen were trying to learn from the liaison officer, Frank Aires, Debbie's husband. Frank was trying to give the guidance and instruction how to be upperclassmen. We're trying to learn how to be freshmen, and we're all trying to make this work, and it was hard.

Kennelly: But it wasn't like in the regular Corps like the sophomores or the upperclassmen would be requiring certain things?

Davis: Right.

Kennelly: I'm not sure what they do at that certain point at Tech, if they were making people run errands?

Davis: Well the sophomores would be in charge of the freshmen, and the executive officer of the unit would be in charge overall. So we had seven upperclassmen who ranged in age of sophomore to junior, and so they were trying to learn what they were supposed to be doing with us. So, no, in that in those first few months we weren't experiencing the same rat system that the male cadets were because our upperclassmen didn't know it. They came for cadre week, and they were only like a week ahead of us.

Kennelly: So you didn't experience the male experience?

Davis: They could talk to us, but it wasn't a lot at that point. They were keeping to their unit, and we were keeping to our unit.

Kennelly: So they couldn't make the specific requests....

Davis: Oh they could have, but it wasn't common.

Kennelly: So was there anything since there wasn't hazing?

Davis: I never experienced any hazing.

Kennelly: Any of your friends or anything you heard about?

Davis: I don't think so. We would be marching, and we would get, not from cadets, but from male civilians, I don't know, it's not criticism.....

[End tape 1, side 1}


URL: "http://spec.lib.vt.edu/archives/125th/cadets/women/davis/davis1.htm"