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Wednesday, November 4, 1998
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 52

Staff Editorial

About the Cougar

In the gender equality game, level the playing field or don't play at all

R. Alex Whitlock

Does anyone else remember a woman by the name of Shannon Faulkner who sued the Citadel because she wasn't admitted? The key argument provided by the political left was that if a woman can cut it in the rigorous military school, she should not be denied admittance.

I was rooting for her the whole time and was thrilled when she won, much to the dismay of my more conservative friends. It turns out that she couldn't make it and she dropped out shortly after attending. It didn't matter, though, because others were able to pick up where she left off.

Because of the Shannon Faulkner case and other gender advances in that area, the Virginia Military Institute was confronted with two options: Admit women or privatize. It chose the former. I was glad it did. It was some time later, however, that VMI released what the standards for female recruits would be.

When the school announced that the female cadets would have the same physical requirements as the male cadets, it suddenly became an issue. Many of the left accused VMI of using these standards to discourage female enrollment. This is when I immediately stopped siding with the left.

Wasn't the point of Faulkner's admittance that she could theoretically do everything the male cadets could? Now, the same side that used this argument for Faulkner was suddenly altering it to fit VMI's new case.

If the purpose of admitting Faulkner into the Citadel was equality, why was VMI suddenly expected to lower standards so that these women, who were argued to previously be the male cadets' equals, could gain admission? It doesn't make sense.

A John Stossel report on ABC showed video of female recruits who were unable to perform the required tasks they would have to perform on the job. Apparently, fire departments made these tapes in fear of being sued for discrimination against women.

And sure enough, lawsuits occurred. Among the witnesses for the defense, woman firefighters testified that it is unreasonable to expect the fire department to make allowances in physical requirements for women who are otherwise not physically able to be firefighters in the name of equality.

Such allowances made it much harder on both males and females who passed the previous standards. If they can't lift a ladder or properly maneuver in the fire suits, why are they hired over recruits who can? The feminist response: Get lighter ladders.

If I decide to become a police officer after I graduate, which is a serious consideration, I will have to run faster, stretch farther and do more sit-ups and push-ups than females with the same goal. News flash: The criminals aren't going to slow down just because a female cop is chasing them. The job will be absolutely no more or less physically demanding, regardless of officers' gender.

No doubt there will be a response or two about the general lack of physical fitness of officers anyway. If physical fitness is indeed unimportant, departments should just do away with the entire concept. But they won't, because it is important.

I think it's great that women are allowed into the Citadel, VMI, police departments and fire departments. I honestly don't see why they should not be. Americans should always strive for equality. If you can make the grades, you should be able to get into the college of your choice. If you are a good enough athlete, you should be able to join the team. If you are physically fit enough to be in the Citadel or a firefighter, then you should be accepted. If you're not, you shouldn't.

Whitlock, a sophomore information systems 
technology major, can be reached at

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