Alumni and Friends of VMI:
VMI Commercial: According to the following article, it appears we'll be seeing VMI on TV in a different venue.
Face value: VMI in razor ad / School says TV spot offers positive look at its male cadets
Friday, July 31, 1998
BY REX BOWMAN
Times-Dispatch Staff Writer
LEXINGTON -- Once vilified for their reluctance to admit females into their ranks, cadets at the Virginia Military Institute now are being given a chance to go on national television and, well, shave face.
Norelco, the company that gave us the classic Christmasy commercial of Santa sledding on an electric razor, is filming an ad for its latest product at VMI.
Male cadets are the stars of the 45-second spot because of VMI's hard-won reputation for honesty, said Gail Zeltman, executive producer of the New York production company on campus to film the $300,000 commercial.
If VMI cadets say Norelco's new Advantage wet-shave razor gives a clean, close shave, it must be true, Zeltman said.
"These guys are honest," she said.
Camera crews have been at VMI since Wednesday shooting scenes: a U.S. Marine Corps ROTC instructor handing out the electric razors to a group of cadets and ordering the cadets to test them; cadets disassembling their rifles and the razors; cadets worrying if their shaves will pass inspection; and cadets comparing shaves. The commercial is chock full of scenes conveying the rigorous VMI atmosphere and the highly circumscribed life of cadets.
The idea, Zeltman said, is to re-
create a 21-day trial of the razor that 50 cadets participated in this year in which they moved from initial skepticism about the merits of an electric razor to outright endorsement.
Regina Washington, account director of the production company, DMB&B, said a research firm gave each of the cadets an unlabeled Advantage razor -- the Norelco name was not on it -- and came back three weeks later to find out whether the students liked it.
Not knowing that their answer would lead to a television commercial, the VMI cadets gave the razor a thumbs-up, Washington said. The four cadets who star in the commercial are receiving almost $500 a day for their work, while the many extras get $75. Filming is to last through today.
None of VMI's female cadets is in the commercial.
Other military schools, including The Citadel in South Carolina, were asked to take part in the market research, Washington said, but only VMI agreed.
"We liked the idea of VMI the most," Zeltman said. "We liked the tradition, the prestige. We thought everybody would recognize the name."
"Military cadets really represent the highest standard of men who want a close shave," Washington said. "And we wanted people who were tough and opinionated and strong-minded -- people who feel strongly about a close shave."
The commercial, tentatively scheduled to air Aug. 31, includes a re-creation of VMI's "breakout," in which freshmen "rats" clamber to the top of a muddy hill, and concludes with a portrayal of the school's annual ball, the Ring Dance. In the commercial, VMI cadets who used the Advantage razor receive the oohs and aahs and adulation of their dates, played by young Rockbridge County women.
VMI spokesman Mike Strickler said the school agreed to participate in the market research and commercial because it saw an opportunity to show the nation that VMI male cadets are not narrow-minded women-haters, but "are just regular college students who happen to have chosen to go to a military school."
"I just looked at it as something good, as something that might be interesting for VMI," Strickler said. "You've got incredible national exposure. If everything goes right, you couldn't buy that kind of time. It's a very positive thing."
The New Women Entering VMI:
Friday, July 24, 1998
35 women enrolled in institute's second coed class
Banished cadet to return to VMI this fall
Angelica Garza was suspended last year for slugging the sergeant of the
By MATT CHITTUM
THE ROANOKE TIMES
Among the 35 women who will take on the rigors of the Virginia Military Institute this fall is Angelica Garza, the woman who left VMI's first coed class early last year for slugging the sergeant of the guard.
Garza said at the time of her one-year suspension that she would take another crack at the ratline this fall.
"She's good to her word. I'll give her that," said VMI spokesman Mike Strickler. "I'm sure there were people that kind of raised their eyebrows and said they'd heard that before, and, "We'll believe it when we see it.'"
Garza, from Lorton, created the first and most surprising stir of VMI's maiden year of coeducation when she struck the upperclassman. She was suspended Sept. 20, just three weeks after she arrived.
During her second week at VMI, Garza was being harangued by a second-classman, or junior, sources at VMI said at the time. Cadets call this practice -- yelling at freshman rats and ordering them to do push-ups -- "flaming."
Garza apparently acted disrespectfully to the upperclassman, who decided to escort her to the guard room to report her. Before they got inside, Garza took a swing at the cadet, who ducked, leaving the sergeant of the guard to take the pop in the head.
Garza and her family could not be reached for comment.
Strickler said Garza is showing the kind of "determination and perseverance" that VMI looks for in its cadets, but he acknowledged the second time around may be harder than the first for Garza.
In the ratline, freshman "rats" learn to avoid drawing attention to themselves, lest they become the object of more harassment from upperclassmen.
Unfortunately for Garza, her reputation precedes her.
"She will not have a low profile," Strickler acknowledged. How the cadets treat her is going to be "interesting," he said. "I really don't know how they'll react. There might be some that will single her out. ... Certainly they will know who she is."
Garza will be joined by 34 other women in the second coed class to enter VMI.
The women include 14 Virginians, mostly from Northern Virginia and the Richmond and Tidewater areas, Strickler said. None are from the Roanoke Valley.
Four are from California, with others coming from as far away as Kenya, Taiwan and Romania.
All but one of the 22 women who completed the ratline last year will be returning, Strickler said. One has been suspended for a semester for having too many demerits. They'll have the opportunity to inflict some sanctioned abuse on Garza, their former classmate.
But Strickler is hopeful for Garza.
"I think she'll make it," he said.
Gen Bunting's Book: A couple months ago I mentioned that Gen Bunting had written a new book (An Education For Our Time). It's apparently been published as I understand that Gen Bunting has been on some radio shows promoting the book. Also, USA Today contained a review of his book on August 6 on page 6D. The last sentence of the review reads, "It's truly an idealistic book that could either provide a thorough roadmap of inspiration for educators or prompt them to run, terrified, into the hills."
I've read the book and it is excellent. At least one non-VMI friend has also read it and he said he was "mesmerized" by it. It's a great read. I heartily recommend it to all.
In Search of Info: Bill Jennings '82 e-mails that he is considering a position in the Charlotte, NC area. Since he knows very little about that area, he's asking for any alumni in that area to e-mail him so he can contact them for information on the city and surrounding areas. If you have related information, please e-mail Bill at:
In Search of Some Other Info: Someone recently contacted me and wanted to know if I know of any good attorneys who are knowledgeable about the military. I confessed that I do not. If anyone knows of an attorney who fits this bill, please let me know and I'll pass along the info.
Where's The Beef?: I have been informed that The Beef will not be a part of this year's Cadet newspaper. From what I understand, reactions over this have been mixed. Oh well.
That's it for this week. Gotta go read my recently received Alumni Review.
Yours in the Spirit,
RB Lane '75
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