Midshipmen can no longer trade exemplary performance at the Naval Academy for weekend leave.
"Our object is to keep midshipmen at the academy more, not less," said Capt. Lee Geanuleas, director of the academy's professional development division, in explaining the change at the thrice-yearly meeting of the school's Board of Visitors yesterday.
The board, a congressionally appointed group that runs the academy, also heard from Geanuleas that the new policy is an attempt to maintain rankings between classes and to end the idea that leaving campus is a prize.
He also noted that exceptional performance in the Navy is rewarded with more responsibility, not time away from the fleet.
The move denies plebes, those in their first year at the academy, any elective weekend leave. Previously, plebes could earn up to seven free weekends - an opportunity that gave them the potential of more vacation than some older students. Naval Academy officials said the new policy eradicates this potential rank degeneration.
At the same time, the base number of weekend leaves for the other classes increased, ensuring more vacation time for the majority of students, Naval Academy officials said. Only around 25 percent of students won performance-based weekend leaves, they said.