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Citadel News Service
25 Jan 2016

Citadel completes investigation into photos of cadets in costumes

The Citadel has completed the investigation into photos of cadets with pillowcases on their heads which appeared on social media after an event in a barracks room on Dec. 9, 2015.

“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, Citadel President.

Fourteen cadets have received punishments ranging from on-campus punishments to dismissal. A dismissal requires a cadet to spend two semesters away from campus.

The investigation found that within an hour of the event, 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 the cadet leaders looked into the matter, two photos of the costumed cadets were posted on social media by an upper class cadet who was in the room. The cadet leadership reported the incident to the company tactical officer (a staff member assigned to the commandant’s department), who informed the administration. The following morning, Rosa announced that an investigation had been initiated and eight cadets were temporarily suspended. After subsequent interviews with witnesses, seven more cadets were added to the investigation.

The investigation revealed:

  • A group of freshmen were directed to report to an upper class cadet’s room over a number of nights after Thanksgiving furlough to sing Christmas carols while dressed in costumes.
  • This incident occurred on the night before finals week. The freshmen used what they had close at hand, including pillowcases and other uniform items, in an attempt to dress as “Ghosts of Christmas Past."
  • 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, and said they just needed to complete the skit so they could resume studying.
  • The lyrics sheets in the photos were for Christmas songs: “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year", “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas”, and “Joy to the World." There was nothing offensive on the lyrics sheets.


“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. We are working on that now,” Rosa said. “The bottom line is that the cadets involved now understand that the costumes could be considered offensive and hurtful to many.”

As a result of the incident, Rosa is creating the President’s Task Force on Advancing Diversity and Inclusion, which will be led by the college’s Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Council.

Currently, every Citadel cadet must successfully complete four years of mandatory leadership and ethics training. Racial sensitivity and ethical decision making are both covered in the training, but will be addressed more expansively.

A few of the many courses and programs cadets are currently required to complete include:

  • Ethics 4-1, Values, Loyalty, and Stereotypes. Cadets study common stereotypes and learn how different types of loyalties co-exist, as well as how to articulate personal values professionally in a diverse environment.
  • Ethics 4-2, Making a Better Call. Cadets study ethical dilemmas and explore ethical responses.
  • Ethics 4-3, Life in the Barracks. Cadets learn to identify situations in the barracks that may influence individual behavior, how that occurs, and learn coping skills enabling them to maintain their personal values according to the principles of honor, duty, and respect.
  • Bystander Intervention. Cadets are required to apply bystander intervention techniques to safely resolve a situation.

Rosa and Navy Captain Geno Paluso, Commandant of Cadets, will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. today in Bond Hall, Room 295. Media interested in attending should contact Kim Keelor at 843-953-2155.


Achieving excellence in the education and development of principled leaders
Media Contact:
Kim Keelor-Parker
(843) 953-2155

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