At The Citadel, a 174-year-old military college in Charleston, South Carolina, cadets are required to wear the prescribed uniform, as a matter of regularity and cohesiveness.
Cadets are expected to conform to the traditions of the college, not the other way around.
But a Muslim woman, who was accepted to the school, wanted an exception. She believes she should be allowed to wear the hijab headscarf, which isn’t part of the military college’s uniform. Rather than choosing a school that allows such exceptions, however, she believes her religion requires special treatment at The Citadel.
And she might make a federal case out of it after The Citadel stood its ground on the uniform issue. From the Post and Courier:
Lt. Gen. John Rosa, the school’s president, said in a statement that the school “has relied upon a highly effective educational model requiring all cadets to adopt a common uniform.”
He also said that “uniformity is the cornerstone of this four-year leader development model. The standardization of cadets in apparel, overall appearance, actions and privileges is essential to the learning goals and objectives of the college.”
The Blue Book, a handbook for cadet life at The Citadel, includes two pages of rules on the subject of cadet appearance.
Wrist watches must be “conservative,” freshman female cadets must keep their hair “maintained in a short style” about 3 inches in length, and “religious/medical tags may be worn if they are covered by the undershirt and not visible,” according to the latest edition.
Lt. Col. Gabrielle Hermes of the U.S. Department of Defense, said that all religious accommodation requests “are assessed on a case-by-case basis and should be approved by commanders when accommodation will not have an adverse impact on mission accomplishment, including military readiness, unit cohesion, standards, or discipline.”