The Citadel, a South Carolina military college, has been in the news because of an admitted female Muslim student’s request to wear a hijab. The request would have been the first time ever that The Citadel would have allowed a change from their longstanding uniform requirement.
And when we use the word “requirement,” we really mean requirement. Take a look at this section from The Washington Post, which explains the behavior expected from their students at the beach. “At beaches, for example, college rules stipulate that, ‘Cadets will change into appropriate swimwear upon arrival and change back into uniform when departing.’ ”
The Citadel’s Uniform
As you can see, the Citadel’s uniform is pretty cut and dry. Hats, long skirts, and grey are required. And even though female’s students hair is covered, it’s not the tradition Muslim head covering.
Response To The Request
Today, the President of Citadel, Lt. Gen. John Rosa, released this statement.
“An American Muslim student admitted to the Class of 2020 requested a religious accommodation to wear a head cover, called a hijab, with the standard uniform of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets. While we hope the student will enroll in the college this fall, the Commandant of Cadets, after considerable review, determined the uniform exception cannot be granted. Captain (Retired) Geno Paluso’s decision was made with my support and the support of The Citadel Board of Visitors.
As the Military College of South Carolina, The Citadel has relied upon a highly effective educational model requiring all cadets to adopt a common uniform. Uniformity is the cornerstone of this four-year leader development model. The standardization of cadets in apparel, overall appearance, actions and privileges is essential to the learning goals and objectives of the college. This process reflects an initial relinquishing of self during which cadets learn the value of teamwork to function as a single unit. Upon graduation, The Citadel’s graduates are prepared to enter a life committed to principled leadership in military service and civilian careers.
The Citadel recognizes the importance of a cadet’s spiritual and religious beliefs, providing services for specific needs whenever possible. For example, during the first week of school faith-based organizations on campus and from the community meet with freshmen cadets. Cadet religious officers arrange transportation to churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship for those without cars. Accommodations for prayer and dietary needs are common at the college.
The diversity of religions and cultural backgrounds represented in the Corps enriches the overall cadet experience and better prepares graduates to become principled leaders in all walks of life, underpinned by The Citadel’s core values of honor, duty and respect.”