The Columbia State reports that the military college in Charleston, S.C., believes that the new standards will make the school more competitive in recruiting.
The updated grooming rules, which will go into effect in the 2019-20 school year, mean "fourth-class female cadets” will no longer be required to cut their hair when they begin attending classes as freshmen.
The 176-year-old military college admitted its first class of women in 1996.
Initially, female cadets were required to have “a distinctive haircut." For fourth-class women, that haircut was a pixie-style haircut. Upper-class women were allowed to have slightly longer hair that could not touch the top of their dress blouse.
In 2008-09, the regulations changed to allow upper-class women to have long hair worn in a bun that met the Department of Defense grooming standards.
The result, however, meant that sophomore women growing their hair out often would have "an unruly mop that requires a lot of attention and a lot of bobby pins," the school says.
The new standard allows women at The Citadel to follow the standards of the U.S. Army set by the Department of Defense, the school said.
“I don’t think The Citadel should have a stricter grooming standard than the Department of Defense — the very people defending our nation, our freedom and our right to have this institution,” says Citadel Commandant Geno Paluso, a retired Navy captain.
The changes to the Blue Book are not limited to female cadets.
“Fourth-class male cadets will get one initial ... haircut at matriculation,” That is a return to an old rule, which was changed in 1997 when men were required to have “a yearlong freshman-standard haircut.”
The rule revision will save money and improve “the quality of life for cadets,” The Citadel says.
“I support Capt. Paluso’s decision wholeheartedly,” says Gen. Glenn M. Walters, president of The Citadel. “In fact, I asked him to make the change as soon as possible. To be competitive as a college, we need to be current, and hairstyles should not define who we are.”