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Citadel interim president says ’60 Minutes’ report unfair

June 10, 1997

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) _ The president of The Citadel and a graduate of the military college said a ``60 Minutes″ report showing yearbook pictures of students in Nazi and Ku Klux Klan garb was unfair and misleading.

The CBS News report went back decades to find the pictures, Interim president Clifton Poole said.

``It was uncalled for, especially when you go back 20 to 30 years,″ Poole said Monday. ``That’s almost a different era.″

The report, which aired Sunday night, said cadets have glorified racist symbols for decades, and aired yearbook pictures and video purportedly showing Nazi paraphernalia on campus this spring. CBS spokesman Kevin Tedesco declined to comment on Poole’s remarks, but said the network wished a college official had agreed to appear on the broadcast.

Among the pictures aired on the program was one in which 1978 graduate Keith Stewart appears in a mock courtroom with a swastika and two cadets with nooses around their necks.

Stewart, now a physician’s assistant from Marion, called the picture a joke and said it was traditional for senior pictures to reflect a ``stupid gag.″ He said the images don’t reflect day-to-day life at the college.

``For crying out loud,″ Stewart said. ``If anybody in my company when I was there came up with a `Heil Hitler’ or done something seriously as far as skinheads, their life would have been miserable.″

Three of the school’s first four female cadets were assigned last year to Echo Company, known on campus as Stalag Echo. Jeanie Mentavlos and Kim Messer quit after one semester, saying they had been hazed and harassed.

Mentavlos has said there was an ``obsession″ with the KKK at the school. She has said she was starved for not answering a cadet’s question about the Knights of the Golden Circle, a faction of the KKK.

``For two weeks straight, I sat there in front of a full plate of food and I was not allowed to eat because I didn’t know who they were,″ she said on the ``60 Minutes″ report.

Poole said neither Mentavlos nor her former roommate, Petra Lovetinska, mentioned the incident when questioned by school officials about the hazing allegations last December.

``I would think if someone went two weeks without eating, their roommate would have mentioned it,″ he said. ``I’m not saying it’s not true. I was surprised.″

Two recent graduates, Craig Belsole and Dan Eggers, have alleged in court papers that Echo Company had a metal file locker with ``Der Stalag Clerks″ outside and a picture of a young man giving a ``Heil Hitler″ salute inside. Der Stalag is German for prisoner-of-war camp.

Poole has ordered Emory Mace, the college’s commandant of cadets, to investigate school mottoes and symbols by Sept. 1.

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