Cadets in White Hoods ‘Did Not Intend To Offend,’ Investigation Finds
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — A group of cadets dressed in white hoods fashioned from pillow cases did not mean to be offensive, but The Citadel’s president Lt. Gen. John Rosa says he’s still disappointed no one stopped the event that led to calls for his job.
“While the skit had no ill intent, it did show poor judgment,” Rosa said. “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.”
As a result of the investigation, 14 cadets have been disciplined with punishments that include dismissal from the military college.
Photos of the cadets wearing white hoods were shared on the social media app Snapchat with a Charleston woman who had matched with one of the cadets on a dating app.
“I screenshotted and decided to share because I was so offended,” she wrote in a Facebook post about the incident. “Was this their idea of some kind of joke?”
That led to a number of cadets contacting her, trying to convince her to remove the post because the wide release of the photos could “ruin their lives.”
The woman says in the post that he told her the pictured cadets were ghosts and they were only joking. She says the man asked her to remove her post, and she did because she was scared. But then she reposted it, she said, because she thought it was important other people saw the photos.
Rosa’s investigation found that the incident was reported to a commanding officer who alerted the administration within an hour of the photos being taken. A day later, Rosa announced an investigation into the photos and the temporary suspension of eight cadets.
Seven more cadets were later added to the investigation.
Instead, Citadel officials say the incident started as an order for a group of freshmen “to sing Christmas carols while dressed in costumes.” The cadets told investigators they used only what was available in their barracks so they could “complete the skit so they could resume studying.”
“At the outset, not all of the freshmen understood that the costumes could be construed by some as offensive in nature. Those who did thought they could easily explain that they were only dressed as ghosts,” the report reads.
On Monday, Rosa announced the creation of the “President’s Task Force on Advancing Diversity and Inclusion,” which will be led by the military college’s Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Council. He says racial sensitivity will be explained more thoroughly in the school’s leadership and ethics training program.
“The bottom line is that the cadets involved now understand that the costumes could be considered offensive and hurtful to many,” Rosa said.