CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Officials at The Citadel say 20 cadets have been punished and four have left the school voluntarily after 85 allegations of infractions, including hazing, were reported at the military college.
"That abuse, hazing, there's no place for it here at The Citadel, in the military or any other institution of higher learning," says Lawrence Hutto, the executive director of the Alumni Association.
Hutto graduated from The Citadel in 1987 and served in the U.S. Army for 27 years. He says the school has taken a proactive approach to dealing with hazing, holding a series of meetings this academic year. According to the school, as soon as the first allegation came to light, a fifth meeting was held with all freshman cadets on February 8.
Col. Brett Ashworth, Vice President of The Citadel Office for Communications and Marketing, provided a release stating that the allegations range from minor infractions to more serious allegations, and not all were allegations of hazing. According to the school, all the incidents happened this academic year. Spokesperson Kim Keelor says no criminal reports have been filed.
According to The Citadel, 24 cases have been adjudicated with 20 upper-class cadets receiving on-campus punishments and four upper-class cadets leaving the school voluntarily.
"Anytime you put your hands on someone, anytime you strike someone, physical violence is considered hazing," explains Hutto. "It is not condoned and is dealt with severely and very quickly."
The Citadel released the following statement Friday night:
"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. He gave them until noon the next day to report violations or face possible disciplinary action. The commandant's message to the freshmen was not new. Lt. Gen. John Rosa, Citadel president, and Capt. Paluso discussed the college's prohibitions against hazing in detail in several meetings with all cadets during the fall semester. Capt. Paluso, who became commandant in mid-2014 after retiring as a Navy SEAL commander, did this to let the cadets know he is serious about the issue.
At this time, approximately 85 allegations have been levied. They range from minor infractions to more serious allegations. Not all allegations are hazing. Thus far, 24 cases have been adjudicated with 20 upper-class cadets receiving on-campus punishments and four upper-class cadets leaving The Citadel voluntarily. The commandant's office is currently investigating the other allegations and handling them expeditiously.
Since his tenure as president began in 2006, Lt. Gen. Rosa has repeatedly reminded cadets that there is no place for hazing at The Citadel or in the practice of servant leadership. Additionally, he reminds them they may spend time away from school, either permanently or temporarily, if they haze. 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."
The statement was also posted on The Citadel's website and included the school's policy on hazing below:
1.4 HAZING. 1.4.1 Hazing is behavior which is inconsistent with The Citadel Core Values and dangerous to the well-being of others. 1.4.2 Hazing is prohibited. Hazing is a violation of South Carolina Law and Citadel Regulations and is punishable by up to expulsion from The Citadel. Allowing any hazing to occur, condoning acts of hazing, or failure to immediately stop an incident of hazing where direct physical injury is most likely is also punishable by up to expulsion from The Citadel. 1.4.3 Hazing is defined as a wrongful striking, an unauthorized laying hand upon, threatening with violence, or offering to do bodily harm by any student to another student, or any other unauthorized treatment by one student toward another student of a tyrannical, abusive, shameful, insulting, or humiliating nature; or otherwise requiring any student to perform any personal service for another student except as specifically provided for in Cadet Regulations. 1.5 Bullying and Physical Mistreatment