Citadel Fights for Freedom, Not Machismo
Watts, Claudius E.,, III, Insight on the News
When Shannon Faulkner won a preliminary ruling allowing her to attend day classes with The Citadel's Corps of Cadets, she was depicted as a 19-year-old woman fighting for her constitutional rights, while The Citadel was painted as an outdated and chauvinistic Southern school that had to be dragged into the 20th century.
But The Citadel is not fighting to keep women out of the Corps of Cadets to protect a grandiose level of 19th-century machismo. Rather, we are trying to preserve an educational environment that molds young men into adults of good character, honor and integrity. It is part of a single-gender educational system that has proved successful throughout history.
The benefits of single-gender education for men are clear, according to Harvard sociologist David Riesman. Not only is single-gender education an optimal means of character development, but it also removes the distractions of the "mating-dating" game and enables students to focus on academics.
In short, the value of separate education is, simply, the fact that it is separate. In October 1992, a federal appeals court ruled that "single sex education is pedagogically justifiable." Indeed, a cursory glance at some notable statistics bears that out.
For instance, The Citadel has the highest retention rate for minority students of any public college in South Carolina: 67 percent of black students graduate in four years, which is more than twice the national average. Additionally, The Citadel's four-year graduation rate for all students is 70 percent, which compares to 48 percent nationally for all other public institutions and 67 percent nationally for private institutions. Moreover, many of the students come from modest backgrounds. The Citadel is hardly the bastion of male privilege that the Justice Department would have us all believe.
While the Justice Department continues to reject the court's ruling affirming the values of single-gender education, others argue that because the federal military academies are coeducational, The Citadel should be as well. However, it is not The Citadel's primary mission to train officers for the U.S. armed forces; training officers is a byproduct of our ability to educate citizen-soldiers. We currently commission approximately 30 percent of our graduates, but only 18 percent actually pursue military careers. At The Citadel, the military model is a means to an end, not an end unto itself.
Today, there are 84 women's colleges scattered throughout the United States, including two that are public. These colleges defend their programs by saying that they are necessary to help women overcome intangible barriers in male-dominated professions. This argument has merit; women's colleges graduate only 4. …