Originally created 08/01/98

New year to bring first Citadel female graduate



CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The Citadel will enroll at least 35 more female cadets this summer and expects to graduate its first female cadet next spring as the years of bitter court battles over admitting women into the state military college fade into history.

This also will be the first time that female cadets will participate in military training of new students.

The new women cadets will mean that just over 50 women will march in the gray-uniformed lines at the once all-male military college where classes begin Sept. 2.

Nancy Mace, who enrolled two years ago but also transferred credits from Trident Technical College, is expected to graduate in the spring.

She and Petra Lovetinska, who also enrolled in 1996 after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Virginia Military Institute's all-male policy and The Citadel dropped its court fights, will help train new cadets. This past year they were sophomores who are not allowed by school rules to participate in recruit training.

Ms. Mace will be an academic officer and Ms. Lovetinska a platoon sergeant and cadet staff sergeant. Two rising female sophomores will be cadet corporals and company clerks.

The incoming female cadets will be housed in six new companies, so 10 of the 17 companies on campus will now have female cadets, said Assistant Commandant Bonnie Jo Houchen, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel hired a year ago to help with the assimilation of women.

"We want them integrated into all of the companies as soon as possible," said Ms. Houchen, who began her duties after two female cadets dropped out of school in December 1996, alleging hazing and harassment that included setting their clothes on fire.

One male cadet was dismissed, two left the school with charges pending and nine others were disciplined, but none was prosecuted.

Last year, "we were getting out of the shock phase," Ms. Houchen said. "It went very smoothly last year. You will not see any significant changes this year from last year."

Suzanne Ozment, the college's first dean of women, said this year's seniors will have spent their entire college careers with women in the corps of cadets.

"The rising seniors this year came to The Citadel knowing women would be in their classes," she said. "Having come in with that expectation, they are more accepting of their presence."

Of the 20 women who entered last summer, three resigned during the year. Three more will not return for academic or financial reasons but at least one hopes to return later, Ms. Houchen said.