Originally created 08/24/96

Women preparing to march at citadel familiar with school



CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - When the Citadel opens its white-walled barracks to women Saturday, the four preparing to march into the Class of 2000 know what to expect. They all come from families with ties to the school, the military, or both.

On Friday, workers put brass door bolts on the two barracks rooms where women will bunk and placed a sign on the women's bathroom a few doors down as the military college completed preparations.

The names of two previously unidentified women also became public.

They are Petra Lovetinska, a Czech national who lives in the Washington, D.C., area and Jeanie M. Mentavlos of Charlotte, N.C. The other women enrolling are Nancy Mace of Goose Creek and Kim Messer of Clover.

Ms. Lovetinska's family was driving her to Charleston Friday, said an official at the Czech Embassy where her father is employed.

Ms. Mentavlos took Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps courses in high school. Her brother Mike will be a Citadel senior this year and she was a finalist in the school's homecoming queen competition last fall. She attended Queens College in Charlotte last year, majoring in elementary education.

Her father, reached at their home Friday, confirmed that his daughter would attend The Citadel but said the family would not comment.

Ms. Messer has taken JROTC and has a brother who attended the college, while Ms. Mace has a sister who graduated from West Point. Her father is a Citadel grad and retired military officer.

Students report Saturday for two days of orientation, with military training, sometimes referred to as "hell week," beginning Monday.

The women's arrival was expected to be more low-key than a year ago when Shannon Faulkner became the first woman cadet under a court order and the watchful eye of U.S. marshals. She dropped out after less than a week, citing stress and isolation, and left in the rain while male cadets cheered.

The Citadel dropped its men-only policy in June after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the all-male admissions policy at Virginia Military Institute was unconstitutional.

At the time, VMI and The Citadel were the nation's only all-male, public military colleges.

"I had high hopes the Supreme Court would uphold the right of the state to provide single-gender education," said Citadel President Claudius Watts, who announced his retirement before the justices ruled. Thursday was Watts' last active day; he will keep a quiet office across campus.

Tony Motley, a 1960 Citadel alumnus and former ambassador to Brazil, helped raise money toward the approximately $15,000 it will cost Ms. Lovetinska as an out-of-state freshman to attend.

Motley said the family did not want any publicity and he would not even confirm her name, though there was a name tag for Ms. Lovetinska waiting at the college bookstore.

He said she attended high school in the Washington area and took JROTC.

"If she was a U.S. citizen, we wouldn't be having this conversation. West Point would have grabbed her up immediately," Motley said. "She is an outstanding candidate."

Motley said he was angry in June when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled. But as time passed, he said he wanted to continue working to get the best possible cadets, male or female.

"Not being a U.S. citizen, she is not eligible for most federal scholarships," said Motley, who sent a computer message to other alumni to raise money.

He said he wasn't sure what reception he would get, but about 35 alumni responded.

"The only two groups fighting this last war are the attorneys for the litigants and a small minority of Citadel guys fighting to the last," he said.