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The Citadel Punishes 14 Cadets Over White-Hooded Photos

One month after photos emerged showing cadets wearing white pillowcases on their heads, The Citadel says its investigation found that while 14 cadets may not have meant to be offensive, their behavior warranted punishments — and in some cases, dismissal.

The incident stems from a a string of nights in which freshman cadets were ordered to an upper class cadet's barracks room, the school says — and on one night, they used pillowcases as part of improvised "Ghosts of Christmas Past" costumes. Photos were later posted on social media, sparking both questions and anger about the event.

"The investigation found that the cadets did not intend to be offensive. However, I am disappointed some recognized how it could be construed as such but didn't stop it," said Lt. Gen. John Rosa, president of the military college in Charleston, S.C.

Eight cadets were suspended shortly after the photos became public. The Citadel says 14 cadets have been disciplined, with some of them dismissed — meaning they must spend at least two semesters away from the school.

The school says that within an hour of the incident, "several cadets reported to cadet leadership that they had seen a small group of freshmen dressed in costumes with white pillowcases on their heads."

As we reported in December:

"The images reportedly came to light after a woman rebuffed a man who was making advances via social media, according to Charleston's ABC 4 News. But the failed connection enabled her to see what was in his feed, and she was stunned by what she saw."

A report about the investigation found that the cadets sang Christmas songs, reading printed lyrics for "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Joy to the World."

"While the skit had no ill intent, it did show poor judgment. It demonstrates that we must integrate an even higher level of diversity education into cadets' daily activities, and into the already extensive leadership and ethics curriculum," Rosa says. "The bottom line is that the cadets involved now understand that the costumes could be considered offensive and hurtful to many."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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