A report Saturday on Shannon Faulkner's withdrawal from The Citadel incorrectly stated that students at the all-male, public military university in Charleston, S.C., attend on full scholarships. Tuition this year ranged from $14,917 for out-of-state freshmen to $8, 245 for in-state seniors. (Published 8/22/95)
Shannon Faulkner today dropped out of The Citadel, the all-male military college she fought 2 1/2 years to enter, saying the contentious legal battle left her too emotionally devastated to fulfill her dream of being the first female cadet.
"I was handling the corps," she said. "At this point in time the past 2 1/2 years came crashing down on me in an instant."
Faulkner announced her departure at an impromptu news conference after informing school officials of her decision. Standing in the rain in front of the infirmary where she had spent the past four days, Faulkner insisted that she was not a quitter. "I don't think there is any dishonor in leaving," she said, adding that she was not willing to sacrifice her mental well-being "just for the political point."
Struggling not to cry, Faulkner said, "It's hard for me to leave, because this is something I have worked for for so long." Asked about her future she said, "I have no earthly idea what I'm going to do now. I know that my life is going to be miserable for a while right now."
The dark-haired 20-year-old fought to be heard over claps of thunder from a sudden storm, and the whoops and cheers from scores of cadets and their supporters, who were thrilled to learn that the state-supported, all-male bastion would be intact once again.
"I think this is the justice that Judge Houck couldn't provide," said Cadet James Weatherholtz, 21, a senior from Annandale, referring to U.S. District Court Judge C. Weston Houck, whose decision that a state-supported college could not bar women opened the door for Faulkner.
"She doesn't belong here. She's proved that to everybody," said Holly Scruggs, 20, who stood in the rain with her husband of two months, a 1995 Citadel graduate. "There's something sacred left in America."
Although Faulkner's case broke down barriers, the controversy will not be decided until after a trial, set to begin in November, over whether a newly created state-funded "leadership institute" for women is a suitable alternative to admitting them to the all-male school.
Faulkner's lawyer, Suzanne Coe, attributed her client's decision to the extreme isolation of being the only woman among hundreds of men, most of whom saw her as an intruder intent on dismantling all they hold dear.
"She feels alone here. She doesn't want to be here," Coe said. The lawyer said she was disappointed and concerned about the possible effects of the decision on Faulkner's lawsuit, but added, "I'm not the one who has to sleep alone in the barracks."
Faulkner first gained entry to The Citadel by having all references to gender blanked out of her high school transcripts. As she fought a legal battle that twice led to the U.S. Supreme Court, Faulkner was continually vilified. The campus newspaper dubbed her "Shrew Shannon." An attorney for the college argued that she was trying to force a "unisex worldview" onto the Constitution. Her parents' home was vandalized. She received so many death threats that when she finally arrived to join the corp of cadets last weekend she was escorted by four U.S. marshals. The marshals remained with her all week.
And yet Faulkner never got a chance to take the cadet's oath. She will never wear the Citadel class ring, which has helped thousands of young men gain admission to South Carolina's business and political elites.
On Monday, at the very start of an initiation process known as "Hell Week," Faulkner and four other cadets were taken to the school infirmary -- apparently suffering from heatstroke after exercising in 100-degree heat. She remained under medical care, complaining of stomach problems, and then on Thursday went to a hospital for tests. The school subsequently announced that she had been cleared to rejoin her fellow cadets this morning.
As the hours passed and she did not emerge from the infirmary, rumors that she was about to quit began to spread among cadets, university staff and others on the majestic campus, where the grass is trimmed to perfection and each building is a gleaming white replica of a Moorish castle. A crowd of media, tourists, cadets and alumni gathered in a parking lot across the street from the infirmary. "We are waiting for the walk of shame," said Holly Scruggs, standing with her husband and several other recent graduates minutes before Faulkner's late-afternoon announcement.
Across campus, Jalorie Robinson, a school employee whose son became a cadet this week, said Faulkner's failure to make it through Hell Week was a severe letdown.
"She disappointed me," Robinson said. "Because she said she is just as good as any man. She said she was ready. So I was like, well, let her try, and if she makes it, good.' "
In a last-minute effort to block her admission, school officials claimed that Faulkner was 20 pounds overweight and not physically fit enough to join the corps, an argument that was rejected in court. But Faulkner said today that her illness was due to stress, not the heat or the physical exertion. Her stomach was in knots, Coe said, and she felt nauseated every time she smelled food.
At 8 a.m. today, Faulkner called her mother in rural Powdersville, S.C., and said for the first time that she didn't want to stay at the school, which provides 2,000 undergraduates a full scholarship and access to a legendary alumni network.
Coe drove with the elder Faulkners to the campus, arriving at the infirmary shortly after 2 p.m. At 4:35 p.m., Shannon Faulkner voluntarily withdrew as a student. She left the campus about half an hour later.
While she was making her decision, her classmates were crisscrossing the sweltering campus, taking part in drills and other activities, all sporting the shaved heads that give them their nickname: "The Knobs." They clutched the school handbook, which describes at length what it takes to become "a Citadel man."
In accordance with tradition, the first-year cadets "double-timed," or half-jogged, whenever they were not marching in formation. They stood at exaggerated attention, with their chins down and shoulders thrown back, and used only three phrases to answer questions posed by upperclassmen: "Sir, yes sir!" "Sir, no Sir!" "Sir, no excuse sir!"
Several older students said that missing the first week of training may have doomed Faulkner to failure even if she had wanted to go on. She would be behind in everything from how to make her bed with perfect hospital corners to how to march in lockstep, and would be more isolated than ever from classmates, who are supposed to bond together in the face of harsh treatment from platoon leaders.
"Any other knob that missed this much time would be" dismissed from the Corps of Cadets, said John F. Volkmar, a senior and the commander of I Company, to which Faulkner had been assigned. "If a knob misses a certain amount of time, well, he's just not a knob anymore."
Faulkner was not alone in leaving during the first week. Several male students also dropped out, including a young man whose parents anxiously waited for him in the campus canteen yesterday afternoon.
The student's mother dabbed her eyes, and his father looked grim. They explained that their son had excelled in the week's physical activities and was academically prepared. But he could not stomach the emotional abuse heaped on first-year students all week.
"It's not what they say it is," said the father, declining to give his name for fear of embarrassing his son. "All the honor and integrity cadets are supposed to have -- they're not about that at all." CAPTION: Faulkner said the long legal battle "came crashing down on me. . . . I don't think there's any dishonor in leaving." CAPTION: Citadel cadets celebrate after learning that Shannon Faulkner was withdrawing from the Charleston, S.C., military college. The female cadet said her week-long illness was due to stress, not heat or the physical exertion of training. CAPTION: Federal marshals accompanied Shannon Faulkner to the barracks area last weekend when she arrived for first week of cadet training at The Citadel. CAPTION: SHANNON FAULKNER AND THE CITADEL 1993 March 2: Faulkner sues, charging The Citadel's all-male cadet corps is unconstitutional. She was accepted by the state military college after gender references were deleted from her high school transcript. The Citadel withdrew its acceptance when it discovered she is a woman. Aug. 12: U.S. District Judge C. Weston Houck rules Faulkner may attend day classes, but not join the corps or participate in military training until her lawsuit is heard. Aug. 24: The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stays Houck's order two days before Faulkner is to register. She spends fall semester at the University of South Carolina-Spartanburg. Nov. 17: The 4th Circuit allows Faulkner into day classes. 1994 Jan. 12: Faulkner registers, but U.S. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist grants the college a stay. Jan. 18: Faulkner becomes the first woman to attend day classes in the college's history after Rehnquist dissolves the stay. July 22: Houck orders Faulkner into the corps of cadets following a two-week trial of her discrimination suit. The Citadel appeals. 1995 April 13: The 4th Circuit rules Faulkner may join the corps unless South Carolina by August has a court-approved program to provide similar leadership education for women. May 18: Converse College in Spartanburg agrees to create a $10 million, state-funded South Carolina Women's Leadership Institute as an alternative. July 24: Houck rules there is no time to hold a trial on the alternative program before Faulkner enrolls as a cadet. He sets a trial for November. July 28: The Citadel asks the 4th Circuit to block Faulkner from becoming a cadet while it appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. Aug. 2: The Citadel appeals Houck's ruling that Faulkner's physical condition can't be used to keep her out. A school spokesman says she exceeds weight standards and has a bad knee. Aug. 8: The 4th Circuit refuses to stay its April ruling and the school asks Chief Justice Rehnquist to intervene. Aug. 9: The 4th Circuit refuses to stay its ruling on the physical requirements. Aug. 11: Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia refuse to keep Faulkner out, clearing the way for her to become the first female cadet in the school's 152-year history. Aug. 12: Faulkner reports to The Citadel, accompanied by her parents and four U.S. marshals. Aug. 13: Faulkner and four other cadets become ill from the 100-degree heat during her first day of training. Aug. 17: Faulkner is examined at a hospital and proclaimed to be ready for duty the following day. Yesterday: Faulkner misses morning training and, in the late afternoon, says that she will be leaving The Citadel. SOURCE: Associated Press