- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 4, 2015

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Four cadets at The Citadel have been disciplined for hazing since the school year started last August and seven others have resigned amid investigations of possible hazing, the commandant of the South Carolina military college said Wednesday.

Navy Capt. Geno Paluso gave an update on the investigations after the state-supported college announced last month it had received 83 complaints of possible hazing from freshmen cadets. Paluso, who is in charge of military training at the school, asked for the survey after his office received reports of hazing. He said it’s the first time The Citadel has done such a pointed survey.

“There is no place for any mistreatment of anyone when you are training a leader and that’s especially true here at The Citadel,” he said.

In four cases, cadets were found to have committed hazing and have either been dismissed or suspended from the college. In 39 other cases, cadets were found guilty of lesser violations of the school’s military training rules and received campus punishments.

“The vast majority are not hazing. They are other rule infractions - training infractions in our freshmen system,” he said.

Paluso said seven cadets resigned this year before the school could finish investigations. It was not determined if those cadets committed hazing or lesser violations.

Two allegations have been dropped and the college is investigating the rest.

The four disciplined for hazing were male cadets. There were several allegations of hazing from female cadets and at one complaint still under investigation involved an alleged female perpetrator, Paluso said.

He said he expects more cadets will leave the college as the other cases are investigated.

Under the school’s Fourth Class system, freshmen cadets who are called knobs - because male cadets have shaved heads - are trained in a rigorous military system administered by upper-class cadets. The system in the past has lent itself to hazing.

The college’s Corps of Cadets now numbers more than 2,200.

Palumbo said he couldn’t say how the hazing numbers compare to previous years.

“But it’s important to say we really haven’t done something like this across the Corps before,” said Paluso, who became commandant last summer. “We haven’t gone out to the entire freshman class and told them it’s your duty to tell us what the infractions are.”

Between 2008 and 2011 the college had reported 18 cases of hazing involving 28 cadets.

Campus punishment generally involves doing tours. One tour is marching in the courtyard of a barracks for 50 minutes shouldering a rifle.

Under state law those found to have hazed others at any state college of university can be “dismissed, expelled, suspended, or punished as the president considers appropriate.”

From novelist Pat Conroy’s searing “The Lords of Discipline” a fictional account of hazing based on his Citadel experiences of the 1960s, hazing incidents have from time to time put the college in the limelight.

Two women, Jeanie Mentavlos and Kim Messer, among the first women at the formerly all-male college, dropped out in January 1997 saying they had been hazed and harassed.

In 1986, five white cadets entered the room of a black cadet dressed in sheets and towels conjuring Ku Klux Klan members and left a charred paper cross. The black cadet left the college and later about 200 people, many of them black, marched in protest.

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