Cadets at The Citadel were routinely berated with racial slurs and for being “weak as a woman,” a former cadet testified Friday in a trial testing the school’s all-male admissions policy.
“A large part of the names you were called were gutter slang for women,” said Ronald Vergnolle, a 1991 graduate and former chairman of the school honor committee.
Vergnolle was the first witness called by lawyers for 19-year-old Shannon Faulkner in her federal lawsuit seeking admission to the all-male corps of cadets. College spokesman Rick Mill disputed Vergnolle’s testimony.
“We give no faith, stock or credibility to what he had to say,” Mill said. “It is inconsistent with existing college regulations.”
The Citadel and Virginia Military Institute are the only two all-male state military colleges in the nation. A federal judge ruled earlier this month that VMI can remain all-male while the state of Virginia creates a separate women’s leadership program at Mary Baldwin College.
Faulkner was admitted to the school after she deleted references to sex on her application. She was rejected when the school found out she is a woman.
Vergnolle said he thought women would do well at The Citadel. He said there were always women on campus, including professors, waitresses and students from other colleges using the library.
“They never had a negative impact, except you knew they were excluded. They could never come into the barracks,” he said.
Also Friday, U.S. District Judge C. Weston Houck ordered the state to have an adequate remedy ready if The Citadel loses the court case. If the state doesn’t, Houck said he’d impose one himself.