Starting with next year’s incoming freshman class, all Citadel cadets must spend a minimum of three years living in the barracks on campus before they graduate.
Under the change, approved Monday by The Citadel’s Board of Visitors, students must live on campus with the South Carolina Corps of Cadets for six semesters instead of the previously accepted four semesters.
Increasing the minimum residency requirement will strengthen the college’s leadership development model, according to Col. Fred Price, the board's chairman.
“This proven training paradigm takes a minimum of three years to deliver, with each individual progressing from ‘following’ as knobs, to engaging, serving, and finally leading within the Corps,” Price said in a statement.
Some students transfer to The Citadel midway through their college careers or enter as freshmen with college credits they earned in high school. The change will require all cadets, regardless of credits, to spend a minimum of three years in the barracks.
“We recognize and applaud efforts to complete college-level coursework,” Price said. “But we are implementing the six semester requirement to assure every Citadel cadet receives the transformational leadership experience that has made our graduates so successful.”
Brad Bruggeman, a Citadel graduate, said he’s in favor of the residency change, “as it ensures that only graduates of The Citadel that put in cadet time get cadet rings.”
“I've had people reach out to me expressing concern over this because of a lack of trust in the board at the moment,” he said, “but this appears to be a genuine move on their part to preserve the cadet experience.”
Bruggemann has been an outspoken voice against another change at The Citadel that will be implemented next year.
Starting next year, all rising sophomores will be assigned to a different company than they were in freshman year. Like the change in residency requirements, this so-called “sophomore shuffle” has also been labeled as an administrative effort to improve leadership training opportunities.
But that change has sparked passionate protest from alumni, parents and students who say rearranging cadets is a break from tradition and will disrupt the close-knit bond students form during their grueling freshman year.
Most cadets already spend at least three years living on campus, Bruggemann said, so the residency change likely won’t have a major impact. The Citadel estimates about 20 cadets have graduated with fewer than six semesters of living on campus in the past four years.
Under the change, students who participate in a college-approved semester abroad only have to spend five semesters on campus.