The next woman who wants to march in the all-male corps at The Citadel is a military academy student and star athlete who has a brother in the college and a father who is an alumnus.
Nancy Mellette, a 17-year-old senior at a North Carolina military boarding school, is asking to intervene in the Shannon Faulkner case, according to federal court papers filed Thursday by lawyers who also represented Faulkner in her quest to become a cadet.
Mellette wants to join The Citadel in the fall of 1996.
“I want to go into the military so I figure it’s the best setup for me,” Mellette told WGHP-TV in High Point, N.C. She wants to study engineering and said The Citadel has a good program.
Her mother, Connie, said she admired her daughter for “having the courage to even try to take this step.”
Faulkner fought a 2-1/2-year court battle to become a cadet at the state-supported military college. She became ill during the first day of rigorous training known as “hell week” and quit five days later, saying the stress of the court battle and her isolation at the college threatened her health.
South Carolina Attorney General Charles Condon said he would fight Mellette’s bid.
“Obviously they’re very adept at public relations,” he said of the women’s lawyers. “They’ve taken a bath in public relations and they’ve gotten a new and improved model.”
Mellette is a second lieutenant in the Oak Ridge Military Academy corps of cadets. She is on the cross-country, track, basketball and softball teams.
Col. Fred Kennedy, the president at Oak Ridge, said if anyone deserves to be a cadet, Mellette does.
“Nancy will handle it very well,” he said. “(She’s) got her own mind. … (She has) got the physical and mental stamina to do very well.”
Lawyer Val Vojdik would not say whether Mellette had approached the lawyers or they approached her after Faulkner dropped out.
Mellette has not yet applied to The Citadel, the school said. Her brother is a senior and captain at the college. A Citadel spokeswoman said he was refusing interviews.
Her father, James B. Mellette Jr., graduated from The Citadel in 1963, according to a school yearbook.
Catherine Mellette said her twin sister has wanted to attend The Citadel since she was young, and that her family supports her choice.
“She used to talk about it a lot. It’s pretty much been her decision,” she said outside the family’s house in suburban Columbia.
Nancy Mellette must intervene to have a say in the November trial of a women’s leadership program that South Carolina has proposed as a way to prevent women from breaking the all-male tradition at The Citadel, Vojdik said.