Statements from three Citadel cadets who announced Sunday they
Statements from three Citadel cadets who announced Sunday they will not be returning to school:
Statement of Kim Messer:
``When I became one of the first four female members of the corps of cadets at The Citadel, I was assured I would be welcomed and given equal treatment. Unfortunately, this promise was broken not only by certain members of the corps, but by The Citadel’s administration as well.
I am no stranger to military life. My father is a retired master sergeant in the United States Army. My brother attended The Citadel. I was enrolled in Air Force JROTC in high school. I spent last summer attending Army ROTC Basic School at For Knox, Ky. A military career and education has been my goal since I was a small child.
What I found at The Citadel bore little resemblance to the real military. My cadet chain of command was incapable of following its own rules and orders concerning treatment of Fourth Class cadets. The Citadel has a Fourth Class system that in theory is humane and fair. My company, at least, was run by a `secret’ Fourth Class system that was neither. The Citadel’s present administration is also incapable of impressing on some of its cadets what is expected of every member of the United States military _ the requirement that they obey the law and follow orders. In this regard, my family and I believe that the Administration is as responsible as the cadets who perpetuated the criminal acts against me.
I never asked for special treatment at The Citadel. I asked, and was promised, that I would be treated like any other Fourth Class cadet. In return, however, I received special treatment. Special treatment by way of criminal assaults, sadistic illegal hazing and disgusting incidents of sexual harassment. I believe that when the criminal investigations are complete and the truth is known, it will be shown that The Citadel’s administration either knew, or should have known, long before 13 December 1996, of the complete failure of its command structure.
My family and I are grateful to Chief Judge C. Weston Houck and Chief Deputy Bill Zerillo of the United States Marshals Service for their offers to take whatever steps necessary to ensure my personal safety on campus had I elected to return. It is apparent to me, especially after hearing the numerous accusatory and demeaning statements made against me by the Citadel’s official spokesman Terry Leedom, that while I might be physically safe on campus, I would not be welcome. It is with this awful realization, that I regretfully have elected not to return to the corps of cadets on Sunday, 12 January, 1997.
The Citadel has, at many times in its history, been a great institution. I sincerely hope that its new president can use its failures, in my particular case, to build a new type of school that treats all equally.″
Statement of Jeanie Mentavlos:
``When this chapter of my life began, I was physically, mentally and emotionally fit for the rigors of what lay ahead as well as any male knob. I didn’t come to The Citadel to make history, headlines or difficulty for the school.
I had an insider’s view of what was ahead of me the first year. My brother had been a knob and told me in detail what knob life would be like. The school’s promises to me and my family that knob life would be rough but safe were critical to me. I thought those promises would allow me to focus on studies and complete the difficult first year successfully.
Despite the Citadel Blue Book and other codes of conduct, the school was well aware that the corps of cadets made their own rules. I was told the chain of command stretched from the bottom to the top. Nobody told me the chain of command might not be followed when the cadets decided to rewrite the rules.
My family and I sincerely thank Judge C. Weston Houck and Chief Deputy Bill Zerillo of the U.S. Marshals Service to taking the time to listen to our concerns and discuss strong security measures. However, no amount of security measures can now make hundreds of cadets, the alumni, the administration and Mr. Leedom accept me into the corps of cadets. Even as the daughter of a former Secret Service agent, I cannot imaging needing to have someone responsible for my safety on a 24-hour-a-day basis.
Maybe the new administration can make a difference. Maybe they can keep the good parts of the tradition and put an end to things that have gotten out of control.
What happened to me were not the acts of a few `rogue’ cadets. `Rogue’ cadets aren’t allow to lead cadet companies. I really hope the cadets identified as having acted on their own are permitted to come forward and tell the complete story without penalty.
Because The Citadel broke its promise, I cannot return to the corps of cadets on Jan. 12, 1997. If the new administration can make significant changes and chooses to offer me the chance to return to my studies when all of these concerns have been addressed, I would consider it. Until then, I intend to get on with my life and make my future great. I hope it is not too late for a college or university to permit me to continue my studies as soon as possible.
Friends and family support me in this decision. Wherever God and my continued hard work allow me to excel, I will also respect and cherish those who treated me as an equal. Those who did not should take a long look at how they view their girlfriends, wives, mothers, sisters and daughters.
Statement of Michael Mentavlos
``I will not be returning to The Citadel to complete my senior year. It is my intention to complete my degree requirements elsewhere and be graduated from The Citadel with honors. I regret leaving The Citadel after my years of hard, successful work but current circumstances mandate my decision.
My family and I are certain that The Citadel will respect my position in this regard and will cooperate with me in making this transition smoothly, without penalty or need to seek the assistance of the court.″