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INFERNAL MUSIC SETS MOOD FOR WOMEN AT THE CITADEL

SHARE INFERNAL MUSIC SETS MOOD FOR WOMEN AT THE CITADEL

AC/DC's "Hell's Bells" blared over the loudspeakers Monday as four women joined hundreds of male cadets to begin a week of intensive training known as "hell week" at The Citadel.

The blaring music followed the shouted orders of upperclassmen instructing the new students at 5:20 a.m. to "get up, knobs."The older cadets already had circled the school's parade ground twice, running, clapping and shouting before they headed into the barracks courtyard to wake their young charges.

Each training company formed in a separate corner of the courtyard. Three of the women are in one company; the fourth is in another company that has new students who are joining the school's band.

The women marched off at 6:30 a.m. to a breakfast of eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast. They were to drill, get their uniforms, receive military-style women's haircuts and take the cadet oath before the day is over.

The women - Nancy Mace of Goose Creek, Kim Messer of Clover, Jeanie Mentavlos of Charlotte, N.C., and Petra Lovetinska, a Czech national who lives in Washington, D.C. - arrived on campus Saturday and spent two days in academic orientation.

All have ties to the military, The Citadel or both.

They are not the first women cadets - Shannon Faulkner was the first, a year ago. But after a court order forced the school to admit her, she got sick on the first day of military training and left four days later.

Faulkner cited isolation and the stress of the court fight challenging the all-male admissions policy at The Citadel as reasons for leaving.

Bryant Butler, the top-ranking student officer, said the four new cadets were doing well.

"They are interacting with their classmates. It's been amazing. It's been a big difference from last year," Butler said.

Butler attributed the difference to the school willingly admitting women.

The Citadel opened its gates to women in June, two days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the all-male admissions policy at Virginia Military Institute was unconstitutional.

"The corps is excited a decision has been made and we're moving in one direction," Butler said.

The women will be treated much the same as the men. But unlike male cadets, they have latches on their doors and blinds on their windows. They also won't receive the same close-cropped haircut as the men.