At paramilitary schools like Virginia Military Institute or the VTCC subset of Virginia Tech, first-year (or first-semester) members of the cadet body, lowest-ranking in the military hierarchy of students.

Rats are treated in a way that walks the fine line between discipline and hazing, in an effort to instill uniformity and obedience to orders, as well as creating a bond between fellow rats (VMI calls this the Rat Line). Rats may be subject to treatment like:

  • no locks on their doors
  • severe restrictions on entertainment (television, music, Web sites)
  • the lack of a first name (throughout your rat time, you may be simply known as Rat Smith)
The superior cadets directly responsible for the indoctrination of rats are the cadre, usually sophomores. Contrast this with the dyke, an upperclassman cadet who serves as a sort of mentor and refuge from rathood's troubles.

The one joy of being a rat is the knowledge that it will be over eventually. Then, of course, the former rat turns around and inflicts the same punishment on newer generations.