Citadels commendable stand-up attitude
A Citadel report identifying hazing, unsafe conditions, inadequate adult supervision, lack of discipline, breaches of the honor system and alcohol abuse is a blow to the respected military college.
But the school administration’s reaction to the report, so far, has been admirable — the kind of reaction one should expect from a college that values honor, duty and respect.
Citadel President Gen. John Rosa released the damning report, conducted under the leadership of former University of South Carolina president John Palms and James Madison University acting president Russell Warren.
That in itself is a good thing. As Gen. Rosa said, “Looking in a mirror is tough.”
The Citadel launched the investigation in January during a dark chapter in the school’s history. Louis “Skip” ReVille was accused in 2007 of molesting campers while he was a counselor at The Citadel’s summer camp for boys five years before. Three months ago, he pleaded guilty to molesting 23 boys throughout the area.
As if that didn’t cast a dark enough shadow on the school, The Citadel’s secretive response added to the shame.
While the school recently was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in the ReVille case, it was criticized for not reporting the incidents to police.
In the wake of that terrible story, The Citadel arranged for the investigation that illuminated the problems now being discussed.
And while the investigation might not identify every problem — incidents like those involving ReVille might not surface as readily as incidents of drinking and hazing — it is a start.
Gen. Rosa has indicated the school has already taken measures to address the problems uncovered in the investigation.
Some alumni are sure to say that this is unnecessary — that hazing is part of The Citadel tradition, and drinking to excess takes place on almost every campus in the country.
However, The Citadel is about honor, and that means obeying rules. All the rules, not just the convenient ones.
Further, as the school develops a culture of openness and honesty, cadets, staff and faculty could become more comfortable coming forward with other concerns — and could expect that they will be dealt with openly and honestly.
The values that The Citadel stands for are not easy to achieve. Only a certain sort of student wants to attend a college where you wear uniforms, march in formation, obey orders from upperclassmen and lose you hair on a barbershop floor. It’s a stern contrast from colleges where fraternities and sororities make for a party atmosphere, and where hazing is less about being hit by rifle butts and more about being required to drink way too much.
As Post and Courier sportswriter Jeff Hartsell reported on our front page Saturday, the special demands placed on members of the Corps of Cadets extend to those who play on the school’s athletic teams.
As a former Bulldog quarterback (Class of 1973), Gen. Rosa has a personal appreciation of that shared responsibility.
But on and off the playing field, The Citadel holds an important place in South Carolina and beyond by virtue of its values. Its graduates include men and women who have succeeded in their fields and earned wide respect.
The Citadel has taken a wise step to uncover problems. It has taken a wise step to talk about them openly and vow to address them.
It should not shrink from its mission of honor, no matter how bitter the medicine might prove.