Citadel to send all hazing reports to law enforcement agencies
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) _ The Citadel’s president promised severe punishment for anyone accused of hazing or harassment on campus, saying he was committed to improving life for the two remaining women cadets.
``We have made mistakes. It appears we have missed the mark at times. We will correct those errors,″ interim President Clifton Poole said Monday at a news conference.
Any cadet accused of hazing will be kicked off campus and the case turned over to local law agencies, said Poole, who also met privately with the 1,800 cadets.
A day earlier, Jeanie Mentavlos of Charlotte, N.C., and Kim Messer of Clover announced they would not return for the spring semester because of sexual harassment and hazing. The women said male cadets set their clothes on fire and washed out their mouths with cleanser.
``We cannot have any misbehavior toward female cadets, and I have told members of the corps in the simplest terms possible that the quickest way out of this college for anyone is to in any way behave in an inappropriate manner,″ Poole said.
Previously, the military college investigated and law officers were brought in only if the target wanted to pursue criminal charges, said Bryant Butler, the highest-ranking cadet officer.
Eleven male cadets face disciplinary action stemming from the allegations. Two were suspended from school, and the rest were moved out of the barracks where they can no longer have contact with the women cadets.
The four women were the first admitted to the 153-year-old school following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that a similar all-male policy at Virginia Military Institute was unconstitutional.
After years of court battles, Shannon Faulkner in August 1995 became the first woman to enroll at The Citadel but dropped out after less than a week, citing stress and her isolation as the only woman in the corps.
The two remaining women at The Citadel, Nancy Mace of Goose Creek and Petra Lovetinska, a Czech national who lives in Washington, D.C., have returned to campus. Neither has made made any hazing allegations.
Ms. Mentavlos and her brother, senior cadet Michael Mentavlos, moved their belongings out of the barracks Monday. Mentavlos said he will finish his college courses elsewhere. Ms. Messer’s status was not immediately clear.
Poole said the women would be welcomed back if they changed their minds.
Rep. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., urged the House Judiciary Committee to conduct hearings on sexual harassment at The Citadel and campus violence in general, saying the two women cadets presented ``a troubling picture of nefarious attacks.″
The state and the FBI are investigating the hazing allegations.
Also Monday, Attorney General Charlie Condon, who battled in court to keep the school all-male, and Gov. David Beasley, who defended the tradition in his election campaign, spoke out against hazing.
Condon said his office may prosecute the case if evidence proves criminal wrongdoing.
``The leadership of this state knew that all the eyes of the world would be watching The Citadel,″ Beasley said. ``Our reputation’s on the line here.″