- The Washington Times - Monday, May 1, 2000

CHARLESTON, S.C. The Citadel's top-ranking female cadet, one of the first women to attend the school, has been demoted over her reaction to being targeted by a mess-hall prank.
Petra Lovetinska, who lives in the District of Columbia, went from cadet major and battalion executive officer to senior private and received 20 demerits. She also was ordered to do 40 marching tours in the barracks. Each tour is 50 minutes, at a pace of 120 steps per minute, while carrying a rifle.
Miss Lovetinska, who graduates May 13, was targeted by the prank called "wiping out the shoes," said Citadel spokeswoman Heather Anderson.
The prank part of the 154-year-old military school's tradition goes like this: An upperclassman tells a freshman cadet, called a knob, to crawl under the table and pour condiments such as ketchup or salad dressing on an upperclassman's shoes without getting caught.
Success wins the knob the admiration of classmates, commanding officers and other upperclassmen. Failure typically results in a pitcher of tea being poured on the knob.
What got Miss Lovetinska in trouble is the way she reacted, Miss Anderson said. She grabbed the knob, a male cadet, and wiped her shoes on his trousers after he put what was believed to be French salad dressing on her shoes. The commandant of cadets, Brig. Gen. Emory Mace, issued the punishment Thursday.
Miss Lovetinska, one of the first four women to attend The Citadel in 1996 after the school dropped its all-male admissions policy, has done well at the school. Miss Lovetinska has consistently made the dean's list. She was the first female cadet major. And in March, Miss Lovetinska received The Citadel's highest honor, the Palmetto Medal.
But Miss Lovetinska was punished as any other cadet charged with gross poor judgment, Miss Anderson said.
Disciplinary matters generally are kept secret. But Miss Lovetinska gave school officials permission to discuss the situation with the Charleston Post and Courier.
A telephone message left yesterday at Miss Lovetinska's residence was not immediately returned.
Miss Lovetinska cannot regain her rank, but Citadel policy will allow her to wear her cadet major stripes the highest rank she attained on her uniform during graduation.

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