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The Citadel wants more female cadets, so it’s changing the haircut rules to entice them

Citadel cadets. (Erik Campos/The State/TNS)
November 06, 2018

The Citadel is making a change in an effort to attract more female cadets.

The military college in Charleston, S.C., has changed its rules about grooming, according to a news release from The Citadel.

Part of the adjusted grooming rules will mean “fourth-class female cadets” are no longer required to cut their hair “at matriculation,” The Citadel reported. The changes to the college’s Blue Book, its list of regulations, will be in place for the 2019-2020 academic year.

The Citadel said the new standards “will improve the recruiting of women.”

This is a progressive step for the 176-year-old military college, which admitted its first class of women in 1996.

Initially, female cadets were required to have “a distinctive haircut,” which was a “pixie-style haircut,” until the 2008-2009 school year, when the military college said women were permitted “to have long hair worn in a bun,” if they were upperclassmen.

But according to The Citadel, female cadets who were attempting to grow their hair out had “an unruly mop that requires a lot of attention and a lot of bobby pins,” by their sophomore year.

“Good for the women who were willing to come here and cut their hair, but the haircuts just look bad,” Citadel Commandant Geno Paluso said in a news release.

The new standard allows women at The Citadel to follow the standards of the U.S. Army set by the Department of Defense, the school said.

“I don’t think The Citadel should have a stricter grooming standard than the Department of Defense — the very people defending our nation, our freedom and our right to have this institution,” Paluso, a retired Navy captain and an alum of The Citadel, said in a news release.

The changes to the Blue Book are not limited to female cadets.

The Charleston college reported “fourth-class male cadets will get one initial … haircut at matriculation.” That is a return to an old rule, which was changed in 1997 when men were required to have “a yearlong freshman-standard haircut.”

According to the school, rules prohibiting sideburns were put in place in 1956, and the “buzz cut,” didn’t become a tradition for freshmen until the 1960s.

The rule revision will save money and improve “the quality of life for cadets,” according to The Citadel. It has the endorsement of The Citadel’s current president.

“I support Capt. Paluso’s decision wholeheartedly,” Gen. Glenn M. Walters said in a news release. “In fact, I asked him to make the change as soon as possible. To be competitive as a college, we need to be current, and hairstyles should not define who we are.”

Not everyone is enthusiastic about the change. Many comments on a Facebook post regarding the updated regulations are critical of the decision.

One comment said The Citadel will “lower the quality of cadets we receive and graduate,” as a result of the change. A series of responses to the post read “I strongly disagree with this,” “Ridiculous,” and “Well … … this sucks … .. the school is getting more and more progressive.”

In spite of many bemoaning the loss of tradition, there were also several supportive comments. Several people also pointed out that the rules for men were different and longer hair was permitted in the ‘70s and ‘80s, when they said they attended The Citadel.


© 2018 The State (Columbia, S.C.)

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