On May 21, the superintendent, Rear Adm. Virgil L. Hill, and the commandant of midshipmen, Rear Adm. Joseph W. Prueher, held a meeting with the entire brigade of midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Acadamy concerning the electrical engineering department controversy and office break-in and the Army Week handcuffing incident. Adm. Hill carefully addressed each issue, pointing out what had been reported in the local newspapers, what had actually happened in each incident, what the administration did to investigate and correct each problem and what would be occurring with regard to further investigations. By no means were the actions of the administration a mere ''slap on the wrist'' to those individuals who were found in violation of Midshipmen Regulations in the handcuffing incident.
The superintendent and the commandant both expressed their confidence in the continued high standards of the brigade as a whole. They pointed out that the small minority of those who do not fully meet these stringent standards is much smaller than at civilian institutions, and that the tolerance level for such personnel in the brigade is very low. The administration has complete faith in each midshipman's ability to properly analyze and act on any breach of the standards of conduct. The meeting did not come across like a parent reprimanding a child; instead, we felt pride in the trust that the superintendent and the commandant expressed in us.
This school, regardless of its military nature, is still a college-level educational institution with college-aged students. The discipline maintained here through the military atmosphere is not meant to create an oppressive, dictatorial environment where midshipmen have no opportunity to use their own judgment. Midshipmen are here to learn to be intelligent, educated leaders -- not blind, unthinking followers.
Unfortunately, when an occasional incident reaches the media, or when several happen to occur within a short span of time, many people feel that the academy harbors immoral and unethical delinquents. This is untrue. We have a unique environment that makes certain stringent demands on midshipmen, but it is neither oppressive nor prejudicial, and the rewards are well worth the effort when the individual strives to accomplish all that is required.
The fact that a few mistakes are made does not mean that the entire system is corrupt or ineffective. On the contrary, it is the general opinion of the officers, faculty and midshipmen I have questioned that the United States Naval Academy has continued to improve and maintain the high standards required to achieve its mission. FRED J. ALEXANDER III Annapolis The writer is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy class of '90.