Page 12: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (March 2017)

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ON POINT WITH JOE KEEFE

Many stakeholders and alumni felt that the sexual harassment and assault allegations had been, from the very beginning, a smokescreen for the deeper issue of whether the school could survive at all.

in policy at the academy is curious, co- someone he knew had been admitted (as did everyone else) because our future inciding roughly with the change in the to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. cadet, also an enormous blue chip foot- guard at both Marad and at its DOT When we sat down for dinner that night, ball star, had ? owing blond hair down parent headquarters. And, in a pre- he told me about it. “Hey, Dad! Some- to his shoulders. The Army of? cer’s pared statement issued in response to one I know got into the Merchant Ma- last comment (issued rather dryly) was, the school’s latest announcement, the rine Academy. That’s where you went, “I dare you – I DARE YOU – to show

About the Author

USMMA Alumni Association and Capt. right?” Now, at this point, I carefully ? n- up on the ? rst day with that hair. I want

Joseph Keefe is a 1980 (Deck) gradu-

James Tobin, President of the Alumni ished chewing my last bite, swallowed, to be there, when and if you do.” That ate of the Massachusetts Maritime

Foundation, said, “This announcement washed it down with a [healthy] slug predictably broke the ice on the evening.

Academy and the lead commentator of is a very signi? cant step toward the full of chardonnay, and then replied evenly Everyone cracked up.

MaritimeProfessional.com. Additionally, restoration of Sea Year on commercial through gritted teeth, “Actually, No. But, I then settled back and looked around, he is Editor of both Maritime Logistics ships, and we are most grateful to Secre- hey, thanks for (sort of) paying atten- craning my neck with great interest to

Professional and MarineNews. He can be reached at jkeefe@maritimeprofes- tary Chao for recognizing the continuing tion to dear old Dad’s career path.” We see who our future Kings Point mid- sional.com or at Keefe@marinelink.

need for this mission-critical training.” moved on to a different topic and I forgot shipman might be, but the event leader com. MaritimeProfessional.com is the

Many stakeholders and alumni felt that all about it until a week or two later. abruptly changed gears and went directly largest business networking site de- the sexual harassment and assault allega- Awards Night at his high school is into handing out academic awards. Not a voted to the marine industry. Each day tions had been, from the very beginning, something that always takes place apart word about Kings Point or the academy. thousands of industry professionals a smokescreen for the deeper issue of from (and before) graduation day simply No one there to shake his hand. I had around the world log on to network, whether the school could survive at all, due to the daunting logistics of moving no dog in that ? ght but I was neverthe- connect, and communicate.

especially given the shortcomings high- some 550 kids through the ceremony in less privately embarrassed for him and lighted by the MSCHE report. Hence, roughly 90 minutes at a large local arena, whispered to my wife, “This is wrong the next few weeks and months will be just in time to shove us all out the door on so many levels.” The next day, I tele- critical for the academy as it tries to dig into the parking lot so that the next grad- phoned a Kings Point alumni friend of As if these ? rms in 2017 didn’t already itself out from a largely self-in? icted uation throng can make its way in. My mine (yeah, I have a couple) and asked have stringent rules concerning moral mess. But the issues and failures in lead- wife’s knee was acting up at the time and bluntly, “How could this happen?” turpitude in the ? rst place.

ership brought out by the MSCHE didn’t she was on crutches. The school system Well, it turns out that the collective All water under the keel at this point, manifest overnight or because somebody found her a wheelchair, INSISTED that identities of the kids being admitted to right? Well, maybe not. With the smoke- said or did something inappropriate on she get in it and they provided an atten- Kings Point is some sort of closely held screen represented by the sexual harass- a merchant ship 1,000 miles out to sea. dant to get her from point A to point B. state secret. My friend tells me that it is ment allegations levied at U.S. creden-

From the outside looking in, there were I was practically running to keep up on an annual event, akin to pulling teeth, to tialed mariners now in the smoky, U.S.

EPA Tier Zero wake of the Academy, – and still are – many signs of what was the way out. There just isn’t much time ? nd out who these students are in order to it is ? nally time to address the real is- happening then, and still likely to come for anything beyond the valedictorian’s properly recognize them at an appropri- sues on campus. Looking straight in the at Kings Point. speech. As it is, these kids are jogging ate moment. Many, like my son’s class- across the stage to get the diplomas. mate, don’t get recognized at all. The face of ? ve failing grades out of a total

Abject, Benign Neglect In any event, this was my ? rst ‘se- academy is of little to no help, so I am of 14 accreditation categories, academy

It wasn’t too long ago – last spring ac- nior awards’ ceremony and this was my told. That’s a seemingly small thing, but administration and staff will (at long tually; and roughly coinciding with the ? rst kid to graduate from High School. is an apt indicator of deeper problems. last) have to address their considerable turmoil which rocked the Kings Point Hence, I had little idea of what to expect. And for starters, it seems to me that for shortcomings and what they have done campus – that my own son was getting As it turned out, the event traditionally a school which bills itself as one which to correct them.

Finally, I suspect that the new DOT ready to graduate from High School. In kicks off in the auditorium at the school seeks and only admits ‘the best and the the main atrium of his school, they have by ? rst honoring the students who have brightest,’ well, this is one heckuva way Chief, Elaine Chao, will have little pa- tience for the status quo and head games one of those ubiquitous “Oh, the Places been admitted to and would be attend- to treat them.

that have long permeated the Kings

They Will Go!” posters inside a display ing one of the federal academies. First up

Point campus. A proven, experienced case. As Senior Year progresses and kids was our Naval Academy kid, introduced Look Both Ways … before Crossing get admitted and make college decisions, and applauded by a U.S. Navy Captain The latest USMMA press release that no-nonsense administrator, she wasn’t they one by one tack up their choice in in full dress whites, sporting enough heralds the “maritime industry’s efforts brought back to Washington to play golf its approximate location on a huge map service medals and ribbons to give him to combat sexual assault, sexual harass- with the President. No, I think that there of the United States. It can be an im- a decidedly port list. It was a very nice ment and other coercive behaviors … is a new Sheriff in town. At the same [and then names] the ? rst companies time, the U.S. Merchant Marine Acade- pressive and equally interesting thing to ceremony.

watch develop. Next up was the kid heading off to to meet MARAD’s Sea Year require- my at Kings Point is most certainly at an

At the point my son had made his deci- West Point. He was similarly honored by ments,” is insulting to the mariners who important crossroads. So far, I like how sion, he naturally stopped by to visit the an Army Of? cer, also decked out in full crew those vessels and the people re- the new Sheriff is directing traf? c. What display and noticed that, lo and behold, dress uniform. This one I had to laugh at sponsible for keeping them on the water. about you? 12 Maritime Reporter & Engineering News • MARCH 2017

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