The Citadel military academy has determined that they will not permit a female Muslim student to wear a hijab, sparking outrage among many in the Muslim community.
According to The Washington Post, the prestigious academy denied the request of a recently-accepted cadet to wear her hijab, prompting the family of the student to consider “all legal options” in overturning the decision.
Considering that 175-year-old South Carolina-based public military academy has had a traditional uniform and policy for multiple generations, the idea that the change of policy would even be given consideration has created mixed feelings among cadets and alumni alike.
While several see the move as a progressive step towards religious freedom and inclusiveness, others see it as a slippery slope that clashes with the ideals that a cadet of the Citadel should leave their individualities behind, basing the worth of a person on their character and abandoning archaic ideals such as representing religious affiliation in the line of duty.
Incidentally, Islam isn’t the only religion that is suppressed at the academy- exceptions have never been made for any other faith. For example, Christian cadets are forbidden from displaying crosses.
Academy president Lieutenant General John Rosa explains that the uniform is central to the ideas of cadets shedding their individuality in exchange for the ability to better learn teamwork and loyalty, thus making such an exception to the dress code counter-productive. While Rosa emphasized the Academy’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness, the president stressed the continuation of uniformity while noting that there are already several Muslim students in the academy.
Approximately 40% of Citadel graduates are commissioned as military officers in the active or reserve components, with another 10% going directly to graduate programs Since the creation of the academy 283 alumni have achieved flag officer-grade ranks in the Armed Forces.
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