A group of Citadel military students who dressed in outfits similar to Ku Klux Klan members and appeared in a viral photo in December were punished for the act this week, The Washington Postreports.
A news release from the Charleston, S.C. military college states the 14 cadets who participated in the act have either faced suspensions, dismissal, or other on-campus punishments. Citadel President Air Force Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa concluded that the students had no malicious intent when they posted the photo.
The group was taking part in a holiday ritual – which features underclassmen singing to their elders – when on the fourth night of the holiday-themed events, they were told to dress up as the “Ghosts of Christmas Past.” The cadets took pillow cases, poked holes in them and donned all white, unequivocally resembling members of the KKK.
“The investigation found that the cadets did not intend to be offensive,” Rosa said in the statement. “However, I am disappointed some recognized how it could be construed as such but didn’t stop it.”
Although the Christmas skit bore no ill intent, Rosa added, “it did show poor judgement. It demonstrates that we must integrate an even higher level of diversity education into cadets’ daily activities.”
Some of the on-campus punishments include marching back and forth in barracks shouldering guns for 50 minutes each time. Another will have to spend two semesters away before becoming eligible for re-admission.
Some community members suggested Rosa resign, and many others were offended due to the murder of nine Black church members at the hands of a White supremacist in Charleston last summer.