The story about The Citadel (What Is The Citadel? Sept. 14) sickened me. It sickened me because I wear the ring—class of '74—and love the school. But I also know the terror of what goes on behind those barracks walls. Nineteen-year-old boys are given a frightening amount of power over the lives of 18-year-olds, with scarce supervision. The things Rick Reilly reported do go on, and they will continue to go on because The Citadel does little more than slap the wrist of those offenders.
Although I have read Pat Conroy's 1980 novel, The Lords of Discipline, I was still surprised to read about the atrocities committed at The Citadel. The practice of allowing immature young men to play soldier by torturing each other in the name of discipline, honor and loyalty should have been abandoned by institutions of higher education centuries ago. The fact that these young men have been brainwashed to believe that The Citadel's Fourth Class System is the correct way to become men is very disturbing. Let's hope that the state of South Carolina comes to its senses and considers dropping its funding of this outdated system of higher education before someone gets killed or seriously injured.
JIM A. WAKEMAN
Congratulations on your article about my alma mater. Though it broke my heart, the article was brilliantly written and witheringly accurate. Reilly described the terror of the plebe system as well as it has ever been described. Reilly also corroborated almost every line I wrote in The Lords of Discipline. His article could serve as the Cliffs Notes for that novel.
Though I received a wonderful education at The Citadel, I have never been able to understand fully the pathological fear of women there, the eerie cult of brutality against freshmen, and the consistent lying about what goes on in the barracks. I was also stupefied by the statement of Lieut. Gen. Claudius Watts, who says that "race relations are not a problem at The Citadel."
I welcome SI to a new sport, one you did not know existed. I'm an Olympic-class athlete in this obscure and bruising sport: the fielding of hate mail from Citadel graduates. Because of Reilly's fierce and uncompromising exposè of a college I deeply love, I will have to be content to be this year's silver medalist. I predict that SI will run away with the gold.
As a 1988 graduate of The Citadel, I found Reilly's article remarkably one-sided. I acknowledge that many incidents of the sort mentioned are a part of the college's past and continue to occur, but they are not nearly as widespread as the article makes them seem. A handful of overzealous sophomores and other upperclassmen have tainted The Citadel's reputation and Reilly's impression of the school.
JOHN L. WILKERSON
As an athlete who graduated from The Citadel only a few years ago, I know how athletes are treated there, and I find Reilly's descriptions grossly exaggerated, if not comical.
As a former Citadel baseball player and cadet captain, I take exception to the implication that harassment, physical or mental, is an accepted practice at the college. I know of no Citadel alumnus who would condone incidents such as the ones described. In fact, individuals have been expelled for much less. The article did a great disservice to the hundreds of Citadel athletes who competed and graduated proudly.
RICHARD G. DAVIS JR.
What's the point of an article that concentrates only on negatives—those who were wronged by The Citadel and the accusations of crybabies? The Citadel has consistently produced men of outstanding virtue and uncommon valor, men who have served their country with distinction in wars and battles. You can cancel my subscription and use the remaining proceeds to buy Reilly a crying towel.
WILLIAM J. ROTHAMEL
The Citadel, class of '64
This is a hatchet job by an uninformed and biased reporter who accepts as truth the word of washed-out cadets who are trying to justify to their parents and friends their inability to complete their freshman years.
The first year in any military school is always difficult, but the treatment of plebes has a specific purpose, one that has withstood the test of time. I am a 1948 graduate of The Citadel. Not a hand was laid on me, nor was I ever touched or struck by any object. What's more, I did not know of such things happening to any other cadet.
WILLIAM V. SCRUGGS
Westlake Village, Calif.
Reilly, as I picture him, is some sort of limp-wristed, nonathletic type who never played a down of football or an inning of baseball in his entire life or, for that matter, had many friends. He writes Harlequin romance-style articles. It would suit me 100% if he never, ever set foot in the great state of South Carolina again.
W. ALLEN ARMSTRONG JR.
The Citadel, class of '84
A mighty fortress is their school, one steeped in tradition—or, some have argued, hidebound by it.
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