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The Citadel ‘Enthusiastically’ Ready To Accept Women

June 29, 1996

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) _ Ending 153 years of tradition and a long-fought battle to stay all-male, The Citadel says it’s ready to accept women.

Two days after the U.S. Supreme Court declared the all-male admissions policy at Virginia Military Institute unconstitutional, The Citadel’s board voted unanimously Friday to admit the first qualified women who apply.

``It’s terrific,″ said Val Vojdik, the lead attorney in the 3 1/2-year fight to admit women to the all-male military college.

``It’s absolutely the right thing _ a stunning victory for the women and the state of South Carolina. I think The Citadel will emerge a new and better place.″

The Citadel’s board president, Jimmy Jones, said The Citadel will ``enthusiastically accept qualified female applicants into the corps of cadets,″ effective immediately.

But just who those first cadets will be is not known.

Shannon Faulkner, the first woman admitted to The Citadel who dropped out after a week, isn’t coming back.

The woman who replaced her in a lawsuit to open the college to women is going to prep school in New Jersey. And another interested woman is waiting a few years, ``to let everybody get adjusted to the idea.″

Those involved in the court battle said the school will have to start recruiting soon if it hopes to get a female class that will succeed.

``We don’t want them isolated,″ said attorney Bob Black, who represented Faulkner.

Women could begin marching at The Citadel in August, although Jones said details on how to integrate women still need to be worked out.

The school has just four active female applicants, but two have already said they are going to school elsewhere this fall.

One, 17-year-old Kim Messer of Clover, said she was sticking with her plans to attend a New Mexico junior college for two years before coming to The Citadel.

``I’d like to wait and give it a few years, to let everybody get adjusted to the idea,″ said Ms. Messer, who was previously told she met all requirements for admission except gender.

Another, Nancy Mellette, of Irmo, has decided to attend the U.S. Military Academy Prep School in New Jersey.

The other two women have not been identified but one of them meets school requirements, Citadel officials have said.

This week, Ms. Faulkner said she had no desire to return to the school. She did not return messages left for her at her Powdersville home Friday.

Faulkner was offered a place at the school in 1993, but The Citadel withdrew its offer after realizing she is a woman. A federal judge ordered her accepted as a cadet last August. She dropped out after less than a week, citing the stress and isolation.

The Supreme Court ruling left VMI as the only all-male public college in the nation. VMI has yet to decide whether it will admit women or try to become a private institution, which would enable it to remain all-male. The school refused to comment on The Citadel’s decision.

The Citadel’s cadets were on summer vacation when the decision was reached. School spokesman Col. Terry Leedom said he guaranteed that the men would welcome women to The Citadel.

``They might not like her,″ Leedom said in today’s edition of The New York Times about the next woman to enroll. ``But she’s not going to know it. They will have respect for the individual. That is drilled into cadets from Day 1. It will work here, and it will work well.″

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