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Not Exactly a Citadel of Enlightenment : Military school's refusal to admit women is a mistaken use of tradition

January 14, 1994

After 151 years the Citadel still doesn't get it. The state-funded military college in Charleston, S.C., still arrogantly refuses to admit women into its cadet corps. The practice is discriminatory, outdated and just plain wrong.

Shannon Faulkner, 18, was accepted last year as a Citadel cadet on the basis of her high school transcript, in which references to her gender were deleted.

When the Citadel learned Faulkner is female, it refused to let her attend the cadet classes, which are held during the day. (The college allows women to teach and to attend only evening and summer classes.)

Faulkner sued, challenging the Citadel's all-male policy. She won the right to attend day classes while her lawsuit was being heard and managed to register for classes before Supreme Court Justice William H. Rehnquist granted a stay on Wednesday, keeping her from actually going to school.

The Citadel and Virginia Military Institute are the only all-male, state-supported military colleges in the United States. Both of the schools have been targets of federal lawsuits alleging exclusionary practices.

Public funds should not be used to support--indeed, in effect to condone--such practices. South Carolina state appropriations fund about 28% of the Citadel's operating budget for the cadet, summer and evening classes. The Citadel also receives federal funding for its ROTC program.

The college says its mandate for the cadet corps program is to provide men a liberal arts education in a strict military environment to foster leadership. However, only 30% of the corps graduates go on to military service.

The Citadel is mistakenly using tradition in an effort to justify its separate-and-unequal policy. To exist in such a time warp and hold to such an appalling double standard today undermines the very tradition of leadership that the Citadel claims to perpetuate.

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