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Concerns Prompt Sweeping Review of Royal Military College- Nov. 2/ 2016

Bruce Monkhouse

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https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/11/02/concerns-prompt-sweeping-review-of-royal-military-college.html


OTTAWA—Senior Canadian Armed Forces commanders have ordered a complete review of the Royal Military College of Canada following a number of suspected suicides and allegations of sexual misconduct at the prestigious institution in Kingston, Ont.

The rare move highlights the growing concern among top brass about the way the 140-year-old college — where future generations of military officers are groomed — is being run.
“It’s unusual,” Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, the military’s second-highest-ranking officer, acknowledged in an interview earlier this week.
“But with that unusualness comes an indication of how seriously the chief of defence staff and the entire senior leadership are taking this issue.”

An eight-member team composed of current and former military officers has been convened to look at all aspects of the college, from the institution’s climate and culture to its academic programs and infrastructure.
The review will put a heavy emphasis on assessing the mental state of the college’s approximately 1,000 full- and part-time student cadets by looking at stress levels and available support, as well as overall morale levels.
It will also examine how staff are selected and whether they have the right training and qualifications to be working at the college, as well as the structure of the program.

The team will start work on Wednesday and spend the next two months interviewing staff and cadets as well as poring through documents at the college.
It will report back to Norman by the end of the year, at which point he and other senior officers will consider what changes are required.
No single event sparked the review, said Norman, who cited instead a number of incidents over the past few months that prompted military leaders to take a closer look at the school.

“Everything from alleged infractions that weren’t necessarily being handled the way we would have expected them to be handled to some questionable behaviour in terms of cadets leading cadets under the guise of training,” Norman said. “The habitability of the residences. Just a whole range of things.”
Norman would not get into specifics, but there have been several reports of sexual misconduct at the college over the past two years. In one case, a lecturer was verbally abused while giving a presentation on sexual assault prevention.

In another, court martial documents show Officer Cadet J.C. Scott received a severe reprimand and a $2,000 fine in May 2015 after pleading guilty to one charge of assault after touching a fellow cadet without her consent on several occasions in March 2013.
Following her yearlong investigation into sexual misconduct in the military, retired Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps reported in 2015 that sexual harassment was considered a rite of passage at the college, and sexual assault was an “ever-present risk.”

The military is also still investigating the sudden deaths of three Royal Military College cadets between May and August. Harrison Kelertas, 22, and 20-year-old Brett Cameron died on campus within days of each other, while 19-year-old Matthew Sullivan died in August in Saint John, N.B.
Officials have not confirmed the cause of death in any of the cases, though suicide is suspected. Norman said the review he is overseeing is completely separate from the investigations into the three deaths.

Senior leaders recognize the trust families put in the military when they send their children to the college, Norman said, which is why a letter will be sent to parents explaining the reasons for the review.
“My message to parents is: ‘We recognize our obligation for the care and custody, the safe development of your children, and we’re not concerned that there is an unsafe environment, per se,’” he said.
“But we want to make sure that we make their experience as enjoyable and as successful as it can be.”

Cadets and staff are also being encouraged to reach out to the review team. Norman said their help is essential to getting at the “root causes” of the problems at the college.
“This is about finding the reasons why and causes for things,” he said. “It’s not about assigning blame or responsibility. So we would like them to feel comfortable coming forward and telling us about their experiences. Positive or negative.”
Norman described the college as a “national institution,” and said closing it is not an option. However, he said the top brass is prepared to do whatever is necessary to ensure it lives up to its promise and responsibility to both the cadets and the Canadian Armed Forces.

“It is our only national military university, military college,” Norman said.
“It’s steeped in history. It is a source of incredible pride to thousands of Canadians and it’s something we really are invested in. And we want to make sure we get this right going forward.”
 

mariomike

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In one case, a lecturer was verbally abused while giving a presentation on sexual assault prevention.

That may, or may not, have something to do with this,
https://www.google.ca/search?q=royal+mility+college+julie+lalonde&sourceid=ie7&rls=com.microsoft:en-CA:IE-Address&ie=&oe=&rlz=1I7GGHP_en-GBCA592&gfe_rd=cr&ei=1dIZWPOhDseC8QeY6Y3ABA&gws_rd=ssl#q=%22royal+military+college%22+%22julie+lalonde%22
 

dapaterson

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"Closing is not an option".

And so, the estimate being appropriately situated, let us continue...
 

The Bread Guy

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In other news ...
RMC staff, cadets subjected to unannounced drug test

Military staff and cadets at Royal Military College campuses in Kingston and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., received a surprise earlier this month when they were all instructed to provide urine samples.

On Oct. 12, the cadet wings were scheduled for a professional military training day, which usually includes two-hour classes for professional development. In Kingston, the day started with a morning parade, at which they were surprisingly addressed by their commandant, Brig.-Gen. Sean Friday.

He explained to them that they’d all be undergoing the first RMCC-wide anonymous, or blind, drug test.

Male cadets were instructed to return to their residences and line up outside the bathroom, and female cadets to the new gym in Yeo Hall. Officer Cadet Jonas Cancino wrote for the RMC Club’s electronic newsletter eVeritas that urine samples had to be 60 ml.

“As a result, many cadets were stuck redoing their tests after long bouts of drinking water in order to meet the required amount,” Cancino wrote.

The tests were ordered by Lt.-Gen. Christine Whitecross, commander of Military Personnel Command, under the Canadian Armed Forces Drug Control Program. For the 1,395 RMC-Kingston population, a total of 1,220 samples were collected. Of the 175 who were not tested, Navy Lt. Jennifer Fidler, public affairs officer at RMC, told the Whig-Standard that 99.5 per cent were accounted for ...

 

dapaterson

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Those tests are done on a cyclical basis; in one stretch, I managed to get tested in my home unit, tested while on course, then tested in my new unit, all in the stretch of five months.  I'm surprised that RMC never got dinged before.

The tests are anonymous; they are done to get baseline information on the prevalence of drug use.  They are not linked to individuals, and are not used for administrative or disciplinary actions.
 

Oldgateboatdriver

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milnews.ca said:

If 0.5 % of the untested 175 cadets are unaccounted for, that means the College is somehow missing .125% of a cadet somewhere.  ;D

Keep your eyes open for a hand or a foot hiding somewhere everybody!
 

SeaKingTacco

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The CF is informing the parents of the "children" at RMC?

Well, I would say that is 90 percent of the problem, right there. The cadets are being viewed as and treated like children, rather than the adults that they are.
 

mariomike

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I wondered the same thing when I read, "a letter will be sent to parents".
 

slayer/raptor

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I look forward to the results of this review and if they will produce something of worth, I graduated eight years ago from RMC. And as history shows, RMC gets easier and more relaxed as the years go on, not higher. In my four years there, we had one suicide. As I, like many others, can personally attest, it is not like a normal university and there is a lot more extra-curriculars. But that is the point of the "University with a difference". Those who go there for the free education (and there are lots) and not willing to be part of the M in RMC, well then of course they will have a hard time dealing with Academics, PT, SLT, and Military. But guess what, leaving RMC is extremely easy, especially in the first year. So I don't think by easing up on the extra shit cadets have to do is the answer. RMC has done a great job in preparing me to properly time manage and prioritize, its a great stepping stone for your first unit assignment (I can only speak for the combat arms). Overall I had a great time there, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat as with many of my friends.

Maybe the problem is the fact that there are a lot of overachievers that go there who have never failed or struggled with anything in their life. I know I struggled with academics my first year, I went from 88% in Highschool to 63% at RMC in the first semester, it was hard on the ego but again it was part of the learning experience. But again its good preparation for life in the military, you will fail at things (whether its an assessment on phase training, or your boss hates your plan and wants you to start over).

My  :2c:
 

KLP

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I am going to agree with Slayer/Raptor,

My son is currently in his second year at RMC and the first year was tough!!! He struggled, not with the military aspect but with the academic and to an extent the leadership aspect. He was a cadet and a good one it was an adjustment to be very good to then struggle with tasks. We had many conversations about adapting and becoming mentally strong. That it wasn't about the failures it was about how you handled them and what you learned from them. Everyone is going to fail is learning strategies to deal with those failures and moving on. He struggled with worrying about failing as a leader. It took many a conversation with lots of resources for him to realize that those were skills, like any, that would improve the more he did them. No one expected him to be perfect and that those leadership skills would improve month to month and year to year.

As a parent last year was a tough year with losing so many OCdts from RMC it took its toll on the students and as a parent I searched for resources for myself to help deal with those feelings. I am proud of my son for seeking out help and talking to someone about how he was feeling. He did that throughout the whole year starting in FYOP and this year I see a huge difference in him. He has definitely learned strategies to deal with issues and that allows me to sleep at night, as I know he will be able to use those strategies throughout his life and military career.

Although we told him last year that the marks would get better we were aware of putting too much pressure on him to excel for most people there is a big drop from last year in high school to first year university and then to through in SLT, military training, and the other expectations on them for us to put pressure on him to get the same marks he did in high school was unreasonable and not helpful to him. We were there as an outlet for him to vent when needed. Do I expect to get a letter from the CAF or RMC explaining the outcome of the inquiry, no, however I agree that it should be public and hopefully there is a positive outcome to this and one that helps the current and future OCdts attending RMC.

This year he has been confident, positive, and that has transferred into a much more successful year to date, academic wise as well as the other aspects of RMC life. I hope he continues to use the resources available to him, it will only help him out in the future.

 

slayer/raptor

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If there was one thing I could provide as criticism to the college, is that (at least in my day) it put too much emphasis on having academic success with excellent marks. Although I agree that striving to succeed is important, whether you get 74 or 94 as an average, you get the same degree with the same commission (and you can still do a masters with 74 later on if you choose too). So if your academics dip its not the end of the world.

Another area is the cadet leadership positions...sure learning leadership is important, but the CFL (pl commander) and CSCs (sect commanders) get a lot of leadership opportunities. There is no point in getting disappointed if you don't get one of the top 5 cadet positions... They will mean NOTHING to ANYONE when you graduate. So focus on what is important: becoming an adult, learning the military lifestyle, making friends and becoming comfortable at being uncomfortable.
 

Humphrey Bogart

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SeaKingTacco said:
The CF is informing the parents of the "children" at RMC?

Well, I would say that is 90 percent of the problem, right there. The cadets are being viewed as and treated like children, rather than the adults that they are.

100% agree.  Does the 18 year old private have their parents informed of how their "children" are doing at Battle School? 

They are there to learn to be Officers to LEAD soldiers, many of whom are hard men and women seasoned in Combat.  The 22 year old Corporal doesn't need some self-entitled brat standing in front of them.

I graduated from RMC and was certainly no model cadet.  I struggled academically and can't really say I enjoyed the College; however, I'm happy I went.  Failure gives you perspective and I think the failures made me better at my job at the end of the day.

One thing I think RMC gets very wrong, too much emphasis on Academics, too little focus on Military skills and instilling a warrior ethos in the Cadet Corps.

I was never impressed with the military instruction I received at the College and looked forward to my summers at the Combat Training Centre in Gagetown, NB. 

The instruction I received at the Infantry School from Senior NCOs and Captains was far better than anything I ever received at the College. 
 

rmc_wannabe

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SeaKingTacco said:
The CF is informing the parents of the "children" at RMC?

Well, I would say that is 90 percent of the problem, right there. The cadets are being viewed as and treated like children, rather than the adults that they are.

A former Base Chief referred to them as the "Royal Military Kindergarten.

I don't know if its CAF babying the College, or the College providing a reputation for immaturity....
 

The Bread Guy

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This from the Info-machine on the probe ...
As a result of growing concern over the learning environment being provided to Officer Cadets, the Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, Vice Admiral Mark Norman, today marked the deployment of a Special Staff Assistance Visit, or SSAV, to the Royal Military College of Canada (RMCC).

Directed by the Chief of the Defence Staff, the SSAV’s purpose is to provide an assessment of all aspects of the climate, training environment, culture, and program-construct of the College and its superior headquarters, the Canadian Defence Academy.

Things that were brought to the attention of military leadership include suicides, sexual misconduct, infrastructure problems and stress amongst college staff and Officer Cadets.

As the institution principally responsible for forming future military leaders, RMCC must provide a positive and healthy learning environment for students so as to give them a solid grounding, both academically and militarily.

Today, the SSAV – accompanied by Vice-Admiral Norman – will hold town halls with Officer Cadets and the military and academic staff of the College. It will continue its work in the weeks to come, and will report its initial findings no later than the end of this calendar year.

RMCC is an elite institution responsible for preparing the future leaders of the Canadian Armed Forces. It is a school of choice for university-bound Canadians, and we count some of our most distinguished officers among its graduates. The CAF must ensure the educational framework and systems currently in use at RMCC are in keeping with best educational practices, and reflect the needs of Canadian Armed Forces of the future.

Quotes

    “By enrolling in the Royal Military College of Canada, officer cadets have chosen to pursue a calling, and have joined a highly respected and valued national institution. They have entrusted us with their futures, and we have a responsibility to provide them with the best possible training environment.”
    – Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff

Quick Facts

    An SSAV is a tool used by the highest echelons of the Canadian Armed Forces to obtain a full and accurate picture of the state of a military unit, directly and without prejudice. It can interview any individual and examine any document or file owned by the unit under review.
    The SSAV deployed to RMCC is an eight-person, multi-disciplinary team led by retired Vice-Admiral Greg Maddison. Names and biographies of SSAV members will be made available upon request. 
    Established in 1876, RMCC is a degree-granting institution in which Officer Cadets are given a university education and their foundational instruction in leadership.
    The mission of the RMCC is to produce officers with the mental, physical and linguistic capabilities and the ethical foundation required to lead with distinction in the Canadian Armed Forces.
... with the letter home to mom & dad attached.
 

Attachments

  • National Defence _ Canadian Armed Forces _ Letter _ Letter from the Vice Chief of the Defence ...pdf
    66.6 KB · Views: 309

Jay4th

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SeaKingTacco said:
The CF is informing the parents of the "children" at RMC?

Well, I would say that is 90 percent of the problem, right there. The cadets are being viewed as and treated like children, rather than the adults that they are.

Some most certainly are children, at least here at CMR St. Jean.
At the beginning of first semestre we have several 16 yr olds and dozens of 17 yr olds.  Our staff need to take this into consideration in many décisions.  Parents have entrusted us with the care and education of their children. Many of whom are in fact minors.  We have a responsibility to ensure we provide the best environment for the present and at the same time, provide the best peparation for the students' future.
 

daftandbarmy

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Will the parents of RESO, DEO and ROTP candidates also receive letters?

'Non-elite' lives matter too :)
 

Jarnhamar

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Not to be a dinosaur but perhaps it's a reflection of young people in our society today.

I was shocked to see officer cadets and 2Lts quit a course (and one release from the CAF!) after taking their cell phones away.
 

SeaKingTacco

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Jay4th said:
Some most certainly are children, at least here at CMR St. Jean.
At the beginning of first semestre we have several 16 yr olds and dozens of 17 yr olds.  Our staff need to take this into consideration in many décisions.  Parents have entrusted us with the care and education of their children. Many of whom are in fact minors.  We have a responsibility to ensure we provide the best environment for the present and at the same time, provide the best peparation for the students' future.

And perhaps if RMCC has morphed into a babysitting service for children, instead of being an institution full of young adults that we are attempting to mould into leaders, then maybe RMCC has run its course and needs to quietly shuttered.
 

dapaterson

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Perhaps it's time to rethink enrolling anyone under the age of 18, so there will be no more "parental permission" required.
 

RCPalmer

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Jarnhamar said:
Not to be a dinosaur but perhaps it's a reflection of young people in our society today.

I was shocked to see officer cadets and 2Lts quit a course (and one release from the CAF!) after taking their cell phones away.

I think there is definitely a generational resiliency issue at play.  However, if we see this issue at RMC more than we do in other high stress training environments, we should still be looking at leadership, program design and the institutional culture. 

This incident last year was a pretty ugly lapse in discipline.  I couldn't see this happening in too many other units in the CAF:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/julie-lalonde-sees-backlash-after-complaint-about-royal-military-college-cadets-1.3086621
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/royal-military-college-cadets-struggled-with-questions-of-sexual-consent-educator-1.3083831

 
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