Faulkner Closer to Full Cadet Status

by Melinda L. Shelton


Shannon Faulkner is a step closer in her campaign to be the first female in the Corps of Cadets at The Citadel, a state- supported military institute in South Carolina. Following an April 13, decision by a federal appeals court, Faulkner must be allowed to join the corps in August unless the school and state provide an alternative military-style education for women.

 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Va., upheld a lower court ruling which also stipulated that Faulkner be allowed to join the Corps of Cadets.

Faulkner's legal odyssey began in 1993 when she was admitted to the all-male military school, but only after omitting all gender references on her application materials. Citadel officials rescinded Faulkner's acceptance when they learned her gender.

 NOW National Secretary Karen Johnson, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, applauded the most recent court decision, but she also criticized school and state officials:

 "We are quite pleased that the appeals court upheld the lower court's ruling," Johnson said. "However, it is of great concern that there is a "way out" for the school, in that they are being allowed to try to set up a separate, alternative program for women.

 "In today's military, 12 percent of the personnel are female. At the U.S. Air Force academy, 500 of the 1,400 cadets -- one third -- are female. If the military service academies have accepted women since 1976, why has it taken The Citadel almost 20 years to do the same? The Citadel is 153 years old; Black males were not admitted until the 1960s; and in 1995, they are still having problems accepting females."

 Johnson pointed out that because The Citadel is supported by state tax dollars, open admission standards should be enforced regardless of a student's gender. Since Faulkner's plight became public, more than 150 women have inquired about or applied to The Citadel, which currently allows women to attend only as day students.

 "Women have served with distinction as military leaders, including in wartime. Leadership, which is what The Citadel says it builds, is not a quality related to biology," Johnson said.

 Greenville, South Carolina, NOW chapter President Suzanne Coe is lead counsel for Faulkner (January 1995 NNT), and Faulkner was the keynote speaker at South Carolina NOW's 1994 state conference.


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