CHARLESTON, S.C., Aug. 19 -- Life returned to normal Saturday at the Citadel in Charleston, S.C., one day after Shannon Faulkner, the first female cadet admitted to the military academy, dropped out due to illness and stress. 'It's calm, quiet, sedate, wet, warm and muggy. No, there hasn't been alot of talk about her dropping out,' said Lewis Spearman, assistant to the Citadel's president. 'It's been very quiet and subdued.' Spearman said a televised scene of cadets training on campus who appeared to be cheering shortly after Faulkner announced she was leaving was misinterpreted. Faulkner said cadets often grunt and yell while undergoing physical training and the sounds were misinterpreted as cheers of victory. Many U.S. newspapers carried pictures of cadets apparently cheering the news. 'The cadets were doing physical training runs, the pictures were taken and the cameras got them to increase their yells,' Spearman told United Press International. 'There's not a sense of gloating and not a sense of victory, there's none of that involved with this,' he said. 'You saw the same cadets trying to protect her from these same cameras. What you had was these young men trying to to assist her,' he said. Faulkner, 20, who spent most of the week in the school infirmary with a heat-related illness, returned to her home in Powdersville, S.C., after announcing her decision at an emotional press conference Friday. 'I don't' think I'm quitting, quitting, like that. I'm taking my personal medical leave. This is my personal health that I have to worry about now.
It's not going to do my attorneys any good if I get in here and just have a mental breakdown or anything like that,' said Faulkner. 'I have no earthly idea what I'm going to do now,' she said. 'I know that my life is going to be miserable right now for awhile. But I don't know, I'll just have to deal with the best I can.' Faulkner fought a more than 2-year legal battle to become the first woman to join the previously all-male cadet corps at the Citadel, only to succumb to heat-related illness Monday evening after marching and drilling all day in 100-degree heat. She missed most of the first-week indoctrination, testing and drills considered imperative for a cadet to succeed at South Carolina's 152- year-old state military college. Citadel officials acknowledged at a news conference earlier Friday that Faulkner would have had a difficult time catching up with the other fourth-classmen, but they expected her to get help from her classmates. Faulkner denied that anyone at the school wanted her to fail as a cadet. Women's organizations defended Faulkner's decision to leave the school. 'I was very disappointed for Shannon, but considering what she's been through over the past three years, I think she did the best she could,' said Kim Gandy, executive vice president of the National Organization for Women. 'You have to think that of all the cadets, she was the only one with the eyes of the nation on her,' Gandy said. 'The pressure on her was enormous.' Gandy said NOW, which originally filed the case on Faulkner's behalf, continued to consider her a winner and praised her for paving the way for other women to join the Citadel. Spearman said that effort was still frustrating officials and students at the all-male cadet corps. 'There's a straight question to be answered,' he said, referring to the time and money spent in court to decide if women would be admitted as cadets. A Nov. 6 federal court hearing has been scheduled in Charleston to decide if a parallel military program for women being developed at Converse College in Spartanburg, S.C., could preempt the Citadel from having to accept women. (Written by Steve Glasser in Atlanta)