WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 -- The U.S. Justice Department is asking a U. S. district court to reconsider the terms under which Shannon Faulkner is to be admitted to The Citadel, including the shaving of her head. In a memo of support filed Thursday, the department said the school's admittance plan places Faulkner in 'an unnatural and unprecedented isolation' and is deficient in planning for her personal safety and security. The memo faults the school for denying that Faulkner's life is in danger, despite acknowledging that she has received death threats. 'Since it is undisputed that Ms. Faulkner is differently situated than all other cadets, the insistence on equality of treatment without regard to the uniqueness of her situation is a denial of equal protection,' the memo filed by Assistant Attorney General Deval L. Patrick states. The memo also charges that the 152-year-old military academy in Charleston, S.C., hasn't justified its demand that Faulkner receive the close-cropped 'knob' haircut required of male freshman cadets. It says the school hasn't shown any functional reason for the haircut, pointing out that 'neither the 'knob' haircut nor anything remotely similar have any counterpart in America's female military culture...The Citadel has offered neither testimonial nor other evidence that women cannot be assimilated into the Corps of Cadets unless they are subjected to the existing male standards of grooming,' the memo states. Requiring such a haircut 'would implement rules which altogether denigrate Ms. Faulkner's identity by subjectingher to unjustified and unjustifiable 'male' standards, unrelated to military education,' the memo states.
Citadel attorney Dawes Cooke said, 'The haircut policy is a vital part of the Citadel's mission. It represents that you cannot survive as an individual and that you must be part of team.' U.S. District Judge C. Weston Houck ruled July 22 that The Citadel was violating Faulkner's rights under the equal protection clause of the Constitution by trying to keep her out of its cadet corps. Last Monday, however, Houck accepted state-supported school conditions under which Faulkner would be admitted, including the 'knob' haircut. Associate Attorney General John Schmidt earlier noted the department had joined Faulkner in the suit that won her admission as the first full-time female student at the military school. Lawyers for The Citadel have appealed Houck's ruling to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and have sought an emergency order keeping her from enrolling on Aug. 14.