Female Citadel Cadets Report Assaults

CHARLESTON, S.C.

Almost 20 percent of the female cadets at The Citadel last spring reported being sexually assaulted since enrolling at the state military college, according to results of a survey released by the school this week.

About 4 percent of the male cadets also reported being sexually assaulted since joining the formerly all-male school, the survey says.

“Some wonder why I would release information that reflects negatively on the college,” says the school’s president, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa. “My reason is simple: In order for us to address these issues, we must discuss them openly.”

Rosa previously was superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy in the wake of a sexual assault scandal, which found that female cadets feared they would be disciplined if they reported rapes.

The state-funded Citadel military college opened its doors to female cadets 10 years ago. Last year, 118 women and 1,770 men were enrolled.

All the women and about 30 percent of the men were asked to complete the anonymous online survey, says Citadel spokeswoman Charlene Gunnells. Of those, 114 women and 487 men responded.

Of the 27 sexual assaults against women mentioned in the survey, 17 were never reported to authorities. About half of the women who did not report assaults said they feared ostracism, harassment or ridicule if they did, the survey found.

The sexual assaults in the survey included unwanted touching, but 16 of the 27 incidents reported by women and 15 of the 23 reported by men involved unwanted sexual penetration or oral sex.

Most of the reported incidents involving women happened in the barracks or elsewhere on campus, and the perpetrator was another cadet, according to the survey. Some of the cadets reported being subjected to more than one sexual assault.

Sixty-eight percent of the women reported one or more incidents of sexual harassment, including sexual stories, jokes and offensive remarks.

Tara Woodside, a junior who helps instruct cadets in the Values and Respect program, says she has been subjected to “comments, innuendo and name-calling” since arriving on campus.

“But nothing I haven’t gotten walking down the street downtown or in New York or Germany,” she says. “I think the spotlight is on the school because a higher standard is expected.”

Rosa, a Citadel graduate, has said that the survey found the incidence of sexual assault and sexual harassment higher than at the federal military academies. The specific Citadel numbers were not released until Wednesday.

Seeing the survey, “I was disappointed because I love this institution,” Rosa says. “Most of what I saw did not surprise me because we are dealing with this in this segment of society across this nation.”

Rosa used the survey to create a Values and Respect Program to educate cadets on such topics as sexual harassment, alcohol abuse, the honor code and racism. The program began this semester.

“We do hold ourselves and, I think, this state … and this country holds us to a higher standard,” Rosa says. “To not attack this problem head-on would simply not be an option.”

A survey of the U.S. military academies released last year found that more than 50 percent of female respondents and 11 percent of male respondents had experienced some type of sexual harassment since enrolling. That survey also found 64 incidents of sexual assault among the more than 1,900 females at the service academies.

The U.S. Justice Department has estimated as many as 25 percent of women could be raped or experience an attempted rape while attending college in the United States.

— Associated Press

 

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