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Second woman leaves VMI; Citadel recruits begin ‘hell week’

August 25, 1997

LEXINGTON, Va. (AP) _ The first coed class at Virginia Military Institute lost a second woman and another three men shortly before ``hell night,″ when cadets were awakened around midnight Sunday and exercised as a group.

``They got a tough, physical workout,″ VMI spokesman Mike Strickler said Monday.

The departures Sunday night left 28 women and 407 men in the freshman class. One woman and 23 men left earlier in the week.

The 158-year-old public college has declined to name the students or say what reasons they gave for quitting.

The dropout rate in the first week, 5.4 percent, is slightly higher than the average rate during the period over the past 11 years, 4.7 percent.

Classes begin Tuesday, and Strickler said the mental and physical harassment of cadets drops off as students attend classes during the day and are allowed to study at night.

Meanwhile in Charleston, S.C., 20 female Citadel recruits and their 538 male freshman colleagues began their ``hell week″ Monday, assured it would have much more training and much less hell.

``It’s basic training. It’s not a hell week,″ said Commandant Emory Mace, a retired Army brigadier general. ″

Mace also told the cadets the state military school will not stand for any repeat of last year’s alleged hazing of two female cadets.

``The hammer will fall and it will be a pretty big hammer″ if there are any incidents, Mace said.

Two of the four women in last year’s cadet corps left at winter break, saying their clothes were set afire with nail polish remover, they were shoved and kicked, and cleanser was put on their heads.

Since then, the college rewrote cadet rules and added sensitivity training, shortened the tough freshman year of training, brought in Mace as commandant, appointed a dean of women and hired a female assistant commandant.

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