CHARLESTON, S.C., April 15 (UPI) — The Citadel, a public military college founded in 1842, is considering a request from a female Muslim student to wear a hijab. If granted, it would likely be the first time in its history the school has made an exception to its uniform policy.
While the Charleston, S.C., school is not affiliated with the United States armed forces, it requires students to wear military-style uniforms at all times. There is even a rule requiring cadets to change back into a uniform after leaving the pool after swimming. Allowing the unidentified student to wear a hijab, the long scarf worn over the head and chest by Muslim women, is believed to be the school’s first potential accommodation resulting in a change to the uniform.
The school offers no deviation from policy, but it also says it “places a high value on the rights of cadets to observe tenets of their respective religious faiths.”
The prospect of a possible rule change at The Citadel to accommodate one student brought out varying opinions on social media, with one correspondent noting the student, if denied the opportunity to wear the hijab, “would either have to break the rules of the Citadel or the rules of her religion.”
Nick Pinelli, a Citadel cadet, cited a colleague with cerebral palsy who, “instead of showing up seeking a different set of rules,” failed the physical training element of his studies and “suffered the ramifications of holding himself to the same standards of the rest of the Corps” before finally passing the tests.
An unidentified cadet wrote, “I can’t wear a t-shirt around campus that says ‘I love Jesus.’ Why? It’s not because of religious intolerance, it’s because it does not meet uniform requirements that all 2,400 of us are held to. Am I offended that I can’t wear a religious t-shirt? Nope. Why? Because I accepted the system that I have become a part of.”
Citadel spokeswoman Kim Keelor told NBC News a decision on the request by the student, who is already admitted, will come in several weeks. The school began admitting women in 1996.