AT last. Shannon Faulkner is a cadet at South Carolina's state-supported, formerly all-male Citadel. It hasn't been an easy first week: She spent several days in the school infirmary after training in 100 degree temperatures.
But then nothing about Ms. Faulkner's two-and-a-half-year legal battle to force the military school to admit women has been easy. And her fight is not over.
The Citadel has filed a motion in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that Faulkner is 20 pounds over the school's weight standard. A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 6 to determine if The Citadel's $10 million alternative military program for women at Converse College is acceptable. And the school has asked the US Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of it's all-male policy.
But there have been victories too, most significantly the Supreme Court's rejection of an appeal to block Faulkner's entrance as part of the cadet corps last Saturday. According to Faulkner's attorney, four other women have applied for admission since Faulkner filed suit. About 200 others have written for applications. There is no turning back.
Yet that is what The Citadel wants. It has vowed to try to keep other women out, even as it continues its efforts to find an alternative solution for Faulkner. Referring to the school's first female cadet, spokesman Terry Leedom said, "Her coming here will destroy forever something that's been working very well for 152 years."
Working well for whom? Certainly not the women who want the kind of education and military training The Citadel offers. A school supported by state funds shouldn't be allowed to deprive them of that experience.
So Faulkner's fight continues. In the coming weeks, her strength will be tested by the rigors of life as a first-year cadet. She will, among other things, have to learn to follow orders. She has already learned to lead.