With the commandant vowing zero tolerance for hazing and a new set of rules aimed at making “Hell Week” less hellish, 20 women began their freshman basic training Mondayat The Citadel.
“We will not tolerate hazing at this institution,” Emory Mace, a retired brigadier general brought in as cadet commandant in February, told Citadel freshmen Monday. “If I find out about it, the hammer will fall, and it will be a pretty big hammer.”
Mace was brought in after two of last year’s four women freshmen dropped out, staying they were harassed. One of the two remaining women - both now sophomores - is his daughter, Nancy.
The 20 women in this year’s freshmen class were joined by 538 men.
The new freshmen headed to the school’s field house after breakfast to hear from Mace and the top cadet at the school, regimental commander Brett Strand of Greenville, Texas.
“No great leader has ever taken the easy road,” Strand told the cadets. “Determine within yourselves that nothing will make you turn back.”
The first week of military training has traditionally been known as “Hell Week.” But Mace said that will not be the case this year.
“It’s basic training, it’s not Hell Week,” Mace said. “We have decreased the tempo a bit.”
The new cadets, wearing blue shorts and T-shirts and black shoes and socks, lined up outside their barracks after the speeches. The cadets then signed in to their companies, without the yelling that greeted the new cadets last year.
But there was a gradual increase in volume as the upperclassmen began teaching the new cadets how to stand and the basics of marching.
“Everybody is a little apprehensive about what goes on and nobody knows what to expect until you go through it,” Jennifer Causey, a recruit from High Point, N.C., said before arriving on campus.
Later, cadets got their close-cropped haircuts and drew their uniforms before taking the cadet oath.