Citadel cadets will change companies after freshmen year starting in 2020

A shakeup to a Citadel tradition is underway.
Published: Feb. 14, 2019 at 8:19 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A shakeup to a Citadel tradition is underway as the Military College of South Carolina shifts away from how it currently handles cadet company assignments.

While the new president of the college calls this a refinement of the school’s practices, some former graduates are disappointed in the change.

Starting with the 2020-2021 school year, The Citadel will begin assigning rising sophomore cadets to different companies than the ones they were placed with during their freshmen year.

The changes come under the leadership of The Citadel’s new president, General Glenn Walters.

In a message to The Citadel family posted online, the president said the change is intended to balance the number of cadets in each company.

To read that full message, CLICK HERE.

"Historically, cadet attrition varies significantly between companies. When higher attrition occurs in a company, fewer sophomores are available to hold rank. The following year, that company accepts a larger number of freshmen to fill empty beds,” the message said. “Over time, that imbalance results in some companies with very low numbers of juniors and seniors, which has a detrimental impact on the cohesiveness of the company chain of command. Balancing the number of sophomore cadets in each company will reduce the negative effects these imbalances can cause.”

The president detailed the benefits of the new structure, saying it will align more with the personnel turnover cadets will encounter as they begin their post-graduation careers.

“Because cadets will not remain in the same company throughout their cadet careers, they will have the ability to develop camaraderie with a larger cross section of their classmates. This “cross-pollination” between companies keeps cadets focused on the traditions of the college and prevents dysfunctional norms from taking root at company level,” the message said “Cadets will benefit from the fresh start serving a different company’s chain of command.”

The change will also impact legacy cadets who wish to pursue a specific company.

“The Citadel will offer a choice to be assigned to a specific company freshman year or sophomore year, following the balancing of the Corps. The Citadel is implementing the change in academic year 2020-2021 so current legacy cadets can finish their careers under the existing legacy program,” the message said.

The president believes balancing the Corps of Cadets is consistent with several internal studies conducted at The Citadel and will help standardize the leadership experience for cadets.

However, some former graduates are disappointed with the change.

“The Citadel is modernizing, which is fantastic, which is absolutely necessary,” 2007 alumnus Josh Harpe said. “But changing the companies after their freshmen year, that’s something more for the service academies, and The Citadel is not a service academy.”

Harpe described the strong bonds made between cadets within their respective companies during their freshmen year.

“It’s one of those bonds that is formed that is never broken, and I think that is in serious jeopardy at this stage,” Harpe said. “It lessens the experience. It’s not going to break it. It’s not going to ruin it. It’s just going to lessen it.”

With rare exception (mostly elements of Regimental Band and Palmetto Battery), all cadets will switch companies as part of the rising sophomore balancing program, according to the president’s message.

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