Sexual Assault at The Citadel

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There was an article in my local paper about this, and I’ve been looking for it in the online version, but for some reason they appear not to have posted it. The Charleston Post and Courier has the story up though, accessible here. Below are some excerpts:

Nearly one woman in five attending The Citadel last spring reported being sexually assaulted since enrolling at the school, according to a survey launched by the new president to gauge the campus climate on gender relations.

Reports of sexual assault and harassment were higher among both female and male Citadel cadets than among cadets and midshipmen at the Air Force Academy, the Naval Academy and West Point who took a similar survey in 2004.

Nineteen Citadel men – about one in 25 of the men surveyed – also reported being sexually assaulted since joining the Corps of Cadets.

For both women and men, most alleged sexual assaults involved unwanted touching and stroking, fondling private parts and kissing. But 16 of the 27 incidents reported by women and 15 of the 23 reported by men involved unwanted sexual intercourse, oral sex, anal sex or sexual penetration with an object.

Most incidents weren’t reported to school officials or law enforcement.

Most of those involving women happened in the barracks or elsewhere on campus and the perpetrator was another cadet.

About a third of the incidents involving men happened on campus and about half of the perpetrators were Citadel cadets.

The survey did not ask cadets to identify the gender of the perpetrators.

I have to wonder why the survey didn’t ask about the gender of the perpetrators, but I certainly have a few theories. The article winds up being a bit of a valentine to John Rosa, the Citadel’s new President, noting:

Earlier this month, Rosa unveiled to the school’s Board of Visitors the Values and Respect Program. It is a series of lessons on sexual harassment and assault, alcohol and drug abuse and the school’s honor code. All cadets are required to participate in the program which will begin this month.

Rosa said it’s meant to change the climate at The Citadel, making it a place where cadets respect themselves and each other.

During the fall semester, freshmen will attend 14 hours of lessons and upperclassmen will attend seven hours of classes.

Students previously learned about sexual assault and harassment, drug abuse and the honor code, he said. But the new program integrates the information in all parts of cadets’ on-campus lives.

Before the start of classes today, Rosa met with all cadets and explained the program to them. He also notified faculty and staff members, parents and alumni.

The Citadel began admitting women after the ruling in United States v. Virginia. The Citadel is a public college funded and operated by South Carolina. It is not affiliated with any branch of the U.S. Military. Students pay tuition to attend The Citadel, and they are not required or expected to serve in any branch of the military after they graduate. According to this site only about 40 percent of graduates “earn military commissions.” Women were not admitted until ten years ago because they weren’t wanted, not because of any “military” issue.

The Citadel graduated its first male African American cadet, Charles Foster, in 1970. The second African American to graduate was a friend of mine, the late and very much missed Joe Shine. He had a hard time as a cadet, and he put a lot of time and energy into making sure the students who followed him received better treatment. The first female African American cadets to graduate received their degrees in 2002.

–Ann Bartow

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0 Responses to Sexual Assault at The Citadel

  1. CitadelGrad says:

    I would like to address a few of your comments about the Citadel. First, the Citadel is more accurately described as a state-assisted college rather than state-supported. Well less than 10% of its annual operating budget is funded by the state of South Carolina.

    Second, the Citadel is operated by the state of South Carolina only in the loosest sense. The Citadel is operated by the Citadel Board of Visitors, which is comprised solely of Citadel graduates. The Board of Visitors is the final policy authority at the Citadel, within the confines of state legislation.

    Third, it is incorrect to say that the Citadel is not affiliated with any branch of service. In fact, it is designated as an “Essential Military College” by the Department of Defense (under the authority of federal legislation) and in that regard is affiliated with the Departments of the Army, Air Force and Navy (to include the U.S. Marine Corps). In effect, it is affiliated with all branches of the military. One of the practical effects of this designation is that those commissioned from the Citadel receive priority for combat arms assignments in the Army and other similar assignments in the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. As for military training and commissioning, it is true that usually no more than 40% of graduates received commissions; however, all cadets receive 4 years of ROTC training from the service branch of their choice. Many cadets are members of the National Guard or Reserves and have been called away from cadet life at the Citadel to serve on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    I spent four years at the Citadel and was commissioned in the Army, where I served on active duty for seven years. During my time at the Citadel (1980-84) I neither witnessed nor heard of any sexual harassment or assault. Frankly, during my time there such a thing would have been unthinkable.

    I’m not sure exactly what you mean by the report being a Valentine to General Rosa. The report simply recognizes that he is taking steps to correct a serious issue, much as he did during his time as the Superintendent of the Air Force Academy. The problems did not arise during General Rosa’s tenure at the Citadel. I commend him for taking direct action to address the issue of sexual harassment and assault, rather than merely assigning blame to his predecessor and quietly sweeping the matter under the rug.

  2. Ann Bartow says:

    The Citadel is a public institution. Its graduates are not required to enter any particular branch of the military, or any branch at all if they do not want to. Why you want to muddy these facts is beyond me.

  3. CitadelGrad says:

    I’m well aware that the Citadel is a public institution. Why you think you needed to inform a graduate of the Citadel that it is a public institution is beyond me. While there may not be a legal distinction between state-supported and state-assisted, there is certainly a practical budgetary distinction. Your statement that the Citadel is funded by the state of South Carolina is misleading in that the reader might be led to believe that the bulk of its operating budget comes from state funds. Unfortunately, the Citadel doesn’t receive the kind of generosity from the state that your employer and Clemson do. One might say Wellesley is state-funded as well, as it indirectly receives state funds into its operating budget via grants and scholarships awarded by the government to Wellesley students. I suppose its a bit inconvenient for you to acknowledge that capital is fungible where colleges with female-only admissions policies are concerned.

    I am also well aware that its graduates are not required to enter the military; however, your statement that it is not affiliated with the military is simply false. As an Essential Military College, it must meet numerous requirements in order to retain that DoD designation, such as the requirement that all graduating cadets must have completed a full eight-semester course in either Army, Naval or Air Force ROTC. Although it is not a Federal Service Academy, your blog post muddied the precise nature of the Citadel and its relationship to the Department of Defense. My response clarified what you fail to grasp about the Citadel (and VMI): A military college does not have to be funded by the DoD in order to have an official affiliation with the DoD.

  4. Ann Bartow says:

    Your claims do not square with other sources of information about the Citadel, and you have done a fair bit of muddying yourself. Find another way to spend your spare time, okay?