The Citadel’s gender wars have taken a new twist, with a female sophomore being warned by college officials this week not to make any more sexually harassing comments to male freshmen.
School President John Grinalds said the woman upbraided a freshman who was staring at her the first day of training by saying sarcastically: “What are you looking at? Do you want to date me?”
Grinalds would not identify the sophomore. However, sources at the military college confirmed that it is cadet Cpl. Nancy Mace, daughter of The Citadel’s second-ranking administrator, retired Army Brig. Gen. Emory Mace. Neither cadet Mace nor her father could be reached Tuesday.
Two upperclassmen complained about the remark, and the woman was counseled by an administrator, Grinalds said. He called the comment “not appropriate or professional.”
Grinalds spoke about the incident Monday to the 1,800-member cadet corps because, he said, the two male cadets who complained were spreading talk on campus that the female upperclassman was treated more leniently than a male cadet would have been for making the same remark to a woman.
“I wanted to make it clear to the corps that this was done according to policy, and that the action taken was appropriate to the level of complaint we received,” Grinalds said.
The complaints were informal, and they asked only that the behavior stop and that no disciplinary action be taken, he said.
About the same time that Grinalds addressed the student body over lunch in the campus dining hall, former Citadel cadet Jeanie Mentavlos, her parents and attorneys held a news conference in Columbia to announce they had filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the school.
Mentavlos, of Charlotte, N.C., accused school officials of allowing male cadets to carry on a campaign of hazing and sexual harassment that drove her from the college last December. This fall 20 freshmen women enrolled at The Citadel, although two have since quit. Grinalds said neither complained of being hazed.
After investigating the complaints of Mentavlos and Kim Messer of Clover, S.C., the school dismissed one student and disciplined nine others.