The Citadel military college in South Carolina has suspended eight of their cadets after several photos surfaced online Thursday showing them dressed in costumes resembling the KKK.
The photos started going viral on social media on Thursday and show the cadets dressed in white pants and T-shirts with white pillow cases over their heads with eye slots cut out. Although they insisted they were dressed as ghosts, the resemblance to the Ku Klux Klan hoods was undeniable and upset many social media users.
Citadel suspends 8 cadets for wearing KKK-like white hoods… in South Carolina. Surprised? https://t.co/W9v21y5UDJ pic.twitter.com/AXiDzweOwA
— The Root (@TheRoot) December 11, 2015
Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa, president of The Citadel, issued a statement via Facebook after the photos were brought to his attention. Not only did he describe the cadet’s actions as “offensive and disturbing,” he also confirmed that the suspension proceedings for those who were involved had already begun.
“In accordance with college policy, we immediately began suspension proceedings for those cadets known to be involved, and we are continuing to investigate this incident. Preliminary reports are cadets were singing Christmas carols as part of a “Ghosts of Christmas Past” skit. These images are not consistent with our core values of honor, duty and respect.”
Later on Thursday, Lamont A. Melvin, chairman of the CMMA, issued a full statement regarding the incident on Facebook, again calling the actions of their cadets “disgraceful” and saying they were pleased that Lt. General Rosa and his staff took swift action to address what had happened. Although Melvin praised the president of Citadel and the staff for taking action against the students, he did say that more needed to be done to protect the minorities from the prejudices they face.
“At the very least, there needs to be a zero-tolerance policy established immediately for racially charged and racially-motivated rhetoric and activity,” Melvin wrote. “Furthermore, increased funding should be committed to cultural competence and diversity training for the entire Corps of Cadets and staff on a regular basis.”
Citadel cadets leaving McCallister Field House after mandatory meeting regarding the photos of cadets in KKK hoods. pic.twitter.com/tQ9XRUi3i5
— Deanna Pan (@DDpan) December 10, 2015
Melvin went on to explain that this isn’t the first incident of its kind to take place at the military school, and the cultural issue must be addressed now.
“It is easy to try to isolate events of this sort to a single item or incident, which would, on its face, be a disservice to minority cadets who have and are currently attending The Citadel.”
According to the Associated Press, reported via MSN, in 1986 five white students dressed in sheets and towels entered the room of a black cadet and left a burnt paper cross. The black cadet later left the college and inspired nearly 200 students to march in protest.
Melvin ended his post by saying, “When racist acts occur on campus, ALL students, black and white should feel the same degree of outrage that we do. As minority alumni and wearers of the ring, we expect The Citadel to carry out the core values of creating principled leaders…not racist leaders. These reprehensible behaviors are not indicative of actions in which principled leaders engage. Again, the activities that led to this social media posting were not a mistake and should be dealt with severely because symbols matter.”
The Citadel was founded in 1842 and has about 2,300 students in its undergraduate Corps of Cadets, with another estimated 1,000 students in its civilian program. The South Carolina Corps of Cadets consists of five battalions, with a total of 21 separate companies.
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