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ACLU Asks The Court to Rule Quickly in Citadel Case;
Seeks to End College's Sex Discrimination Without Costly Trial
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 1993
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- In light of a recent victory in a related case,
the American Civil Liberties Union today asked a judge to issue a summary
judgment in its sex discrimination case against The Citadel, the Military
College of South Carolina.
The ACLU's Women's Rights Project, in cooperation with the ACLU of
South Carolina and the New York-based law firm of Shearman & Sterling,
today filed a motion for summary judgment to prevent what would likely be
a protracted and expensive trial.
"Ultimately," said Isabelle Katz Pinzler, director of the ACLU's
Women's Rights Project, "South Carolina taxpayers would have to foot the
bill for the school's stubborn resistance to the requirements of the
In a closely related case, a federal appeals court recently ruled
that The Virginia Military Institute discriminated against qualified
female students in its admission policies and ordered the school to
conform with the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The
court rejected arguments that the exclusionary policy was justified under
a government objective of educational diversity.
That decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit held that publicly supported single-sex education cannot exist to
the detriment of women. It is therefore directly related to the situation
in South Carolina, where female civilians who want to attend The Citadel
must juggle their schedules to attend evening or summer classes that in
addition offer far fewer fields of study, Pinzler said.
The ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court,
Charleston Division, on June 11, 1992 on behalf of three U.S. Navy
veterans who were barred from entering The Citadel's Veteran Day Program
solely because of their sex. The school responded by suspending the
program for the spring semester of 1993 -- disrupting the lives of 78
"The sooner the Court directs The Citadel to stop its
unconstitutional segregation, the sooner students can get back to the
business of learning," said Steve Bates, executive director of the ACLU of
The ACLU said that if the South Carolina judge orders a trial, it is
prepared to present current research that directly contradicts The
Citadel's arguments that the male-only status provides any important
Alexander W. Astin, a Professor of Higher Education at the University
of California in Los Angeles, is a leading expert in higher education
research. Attorneys for The Citadel and VMI have cited his 1977 book, Four
Critical Years, in which he discusses the value of single-sex education.
Astin examined the effects of allowing women to attend the same 19
universities that were part of his original research and have since become
co-educational. In his newly published, What Matters in College? Four
Critical Years Revisited, (Jossey-Bass, 1993), he wrote that new data led
him to reevaluate his original conclusions.
In court papers, Astin said, "the admission of women by colleges that
formerly admitted only men has not substantially altered their unique
effects on student development as reported..."
Students had nearly identical levels of intellectual self-esteem and
spent almost the same amount of time studying, doing homework, exercising
and participating in sports, Astin found. Their grade point averages and
satisfaction with faculty relations and instruction quality similarly
remained positive regardless of whether women were present in the
classroom, he wrote.
"Denying women veterans the educational opportunities offered a
state's male citizens is unconstitutional," said Henry Weisburg of
Shearman & Sterling.
"The Citadel has done everything possible to make sure women feel
like second-class citizens who are responsible for depriving male veterans
of their education," Pinzler said. "That myth undoubtedly will be put to
rest if we go to trial in March or if the Court, follows the VMI decision
and grants our motion."
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