CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Now that women march as cadets at The Citadel, the debate at the former all-male state military school has turned to whether to acknowledge their presence as future alumni.
The prospect of renaming the alumni group from the Association of Citadel Men to the Citadel Alumni Association prompted one graduate this week to buy quarter-page newspaper ads urging that the change be voted down on Friday.
"Not being satisfied with what they did to the college, now they want to deny men were ever Citadel graduates," the ad says. "Had enough humiliation yet? Take a stand for your freedom."
John Dillingham of Washington, D.C., signed it "Paid for by a Citadel Man."
"The goal was to cut through the smoke and go to the issue of destroying the name of the Association of Citadel Men," said Dillingham, a 1973 civil engineering graduate.
"To me it's a deal-breaker. I don't feel you need to destroy something old to create something new," Dillingham said. "There is no reason women can't create a new parallel association."
However, Citadel President John Grinalds and the association's bylaws committee have endorsed the changes. Frank Mood, chairman of the school's governing board, said he thinks the change has broad-based support.
It has been discussed since the school voluntarily admitted women to the cadet corps last year after losing a long and bitter court battle.
"If people are saying they don't want the name change because they don't want women in it ... they don't have much choice because women are going to qualify," said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Fred Whittle, now president of the Association of Citadel Men.
Friday's membership meeting now might become rather heated, said James W. Bradin of Beaufort, a former Citadel commandant and governing board member.
"The name change was not a bone of contention until the ad ran," Bradin said. "Everybody seemed very happy. Now they are stabbing the whole school and the state in the back."
One group of alumni opposes accepting women into the association. Another wants to exclude graduates of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies, Bradin said.