85 allegations of hazing reported in recent weeks at The Citadel, authorities say

The Citadel’s Padgett-Thomas Barracks

Four cadets have dropped out of The Citadel amid an investigation by the military college into alleged acts of hazing, according to a statement released by the school Friday afternoon.

“On February 8, the commandant of cadets at The Citadel, Capt. Geno Paluso, held a meeting with all freshman cadets to remind them of their duty to report any instances of hazing,” according to the statement, released by spokesman Brett Ashworth.

Paluso gave the students until noon the following day to report any violations or face possible disciplinary action.

In the weeks since, approximately 85 allegations of hazing and other complaints have been reported at the school, ranging from “minor infractions to more serious allegations.”

Twenty-four of the cases have been resolved, with 20 upper-class cadets receiving on-campus punishments, the statement said. The remaining four voluntarily left the school. Ashworth said in an interview he didn’t know whether the students left because they thought they might face expulsion or for some other reason.

The allegations remain under investigation, the statement said.

Paluso’s message to the cadets earlier this month was not a new one. When Paluso joined The Citadel last year, he said in an interview in September that hazing was just “a different name for bullying” and that it was something he was “not going to put up with.”

Physical hazing of first-year students, known as knobs for their extremely short haircuts, is an ongoing issue at the Citadel. In the past five years, the military college has investigated several incidents of hazing, including an incident in 2009 when upperclassmen drove an unsharpened pencil into the head of a knob. In another incident in the 2011-2012 school year, a photo surfaced showing a freshman cadet taped to a chair in the shower in the bathroom of his barracks.

The college in its regulations for the Corps of Cadets, known as the Blue Book, lays out the school’s definition and penalties for participating in hazing. Each student is required to read and sign the book. Ashworth said cadets are required to report any suspected incidents of hazing. Cadets who don’t, Ashworth said, could face disciplinary action.

The college’s definition of hazing includes the wrongful striking of a student by another student or one student threatening another student with violence or bodily harm. It also includes the unauthorized treatment by one student toward another student of a “tyrannical, abusive, shameful, insulting or humiliating nature.”

Since beginning his tenure as The Citadel’s president in 2006, Lt. Gen. John Rosa has repeatedly reminded cadets of the school’s policy, the statement said.

“Additionally, he reminds them they may spend time away from school, either permanently or temporarily, if they haze,” the statement said. “Every year, freshmen are briefed on their duty to report hazing, required to sign documents agreeing to the policy upon enrollment, and attend mandatory leadership and ethics courses.”

Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC. Reach Amanda Kerr at 937-5546 or at Twitter.com/PCAmandaKerr.