Court rules Citadel demonstrated "good faith" in coeducation efforts
CHARLESTON -- U.S. District Court Judge C. Weston Houck ended the Justice Department's oversight of The Citadel this week.
In his signed order, Houck said the military college "has demonstrated good faith in its assimilation of women." The action ends the quarterly reports The Citadel has filed with the Justice Department since the fall of 1996 when the first four women became members of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets.
"This action is a validation of our sincere efforts and substantial progress in coeducation," said Maj. Gen. John S. Grinalds, president of The Citadel. "We are gratified that the courts and the Justice Department recognize our intentions to offer young women the same opportunities for success and leadership that have made such a difference to generations of young men in the South Carolina Corps of Cadets."
"The outstanding progress that The Citadel has made is due to a concerted effort from everyone including the Board of Visitors, the administration, faculty and staff, cadets and alumni," Grinalds said.
Leonard C. Fulghum, Jr., chairman of The Citadel Board of Visitors, said The Citadel board took the initiative to admit women immediately after the Supreme Court decision ending Virginia Military Institute's single-gender status in June of 1996. "Since we made that decision, we have strived to make The Citadel an outstanding coeducational military institution just as it was an outstanding single-gender institution since 1842," Fulghum said.
The court order dismissing DOJ's involvement with coeducation at The Citadel comes at a time when the college is preparing to graduate its largest class of women so far (25) and has 12 alumnae from the Corps of Cadets. Six of the 12 alumnae are commissioned officers in the armed forces.
The 98 cadet women are members of every company of the Corps and make up about 6 percent of the student body. Women command two of The Citadel's 18 companies and a third woman serves on regimental staff as public affairs officer.
Nowhere is the progress in coeducation at The Citadel more evident than in athletics, a program that has gone from zero to seven NCAA offerings in just five years. Those offerings include volleyball, soccer, cross-country, fall and spring track, golf and rifle. Half of the women at The Citadel are varsity athletes, many participating in more than one sport.
Athletic Director Les Robinson, who joined The Citadel in fall of 2000, said the college has every intention of developing women's athletic programs that are competitive. "Although I have been here as athletic director for less that two years, it is very apparent to me that everyone is committed to developing a quality women's sports program," Robinson said.