Muslim Student Requests Uniform Accommodation To Include Hijab
Cadet Nearly Faces Expulsion For Sharing Dissenting Opinion On The Subject
School Considers Making First Uniform Change In 175 Years for Muslim Student
A potential change to Citadel Military College’s uniform policy has ignited a fierce debate among current students and alumni. The college is considering changing their uniform policy to accommodate the request of a prospective Muslim student. The admitted Muslim student, who has not yet begun attending the college, has requested an amendment be made to the dress code that would allow her to cover her hair with a hijab while in uniform. The potential change has also landed another cadet, Nick Pinelli, in hot water.
If the exception is granted it will be the first request for an exception the school has ever agreed to in its 175 year history. The school is notorious for it’s strict dress code and has been unwilling to consider changes in the past for any reason, whether it be religious or not. The school released its official statement on any uniform changes to the Daily Mail, stating it will approve any religious accommodation unless:
It will have an adverse impact on a competing institutional interest including, but not limited to, cohesion, morale, good order and discipline, cadet welfare, safety and/or health.
The decision on whether or not the admitted student will be able to wear her hijab will not be made for several weeks according to a spokesperson representing the college. For several weeks the student’s application has been reviewed in contrast with the school’s 35-page booklet on rules and military courtesies, rumors have been exchanged between students on campus since it was received. These rumours have sparked debate among students and has discussion about the issue has led to senior, Nick Pinelli, being forced to march for 33 hours as a punishment.
Pinelli is what most would consider a star pupil. He works in marketing for a private company, works as a DJ in his spare time and is even an intern for for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Pinelli has been ordered to march for 40 tours, or 33 hours, due to a Facebook post he released regarding the issue. The school originally sought to charge Pinelli with behavior “unbecoming to a cadet”. A class I offense that could have led to expulsion. The charge has since been dropped to “gross poor judgment”. The school states that the cadent used poor judgement in releasing information to the public that can have a negative effect on the college’s reputation.
Pinelli argues that his objections to the potential uniform change aren’t based on the student’s religion. He instead argues that accommodating the students request would be a slap in the fact to the school’s long held traditions and that the school’s traditions should be put above one students “sense of entitlement”. He argues that allowing one student special treatment based on religious beliefs will have a direct impact on the schools sense of “cohesion, morale, good order and discipline”.
It doesn’t bring harm to the school. But it is a blatant disrespect to what a military school stands for. We come here and willingly give up our individuality and become a part of a group that upholds the time honored traditions of this school. So for anyone to come, not even walk through our hallowed gates, and force the school to go to extreme lengths both financially and resourcefully, to accommodate one person, isn’t right.
Pinelli cites one of his disabled peers as the source of his argument. The student in question is afflicted with cerebral palsy. Rather than using his physical disability to apply for accommodations for this physical fitness requirements the student repeatedly tried, and failed, the standard test until his passed. Pinelli argues that making exceptions not only weakens the individual receiving the special treatment but also the student body as a whole:
Instead of showing up seeking a different set of rules, he jumped right into a challenge that was a perpetually uphill battle. Instead of saying he shouldn’t have to pass the PT test because of his disability, he failed it time and again and suffered the ramifications of holding himself to the same standard as the rest of the Corps.
Pinelli fears that one accommodation could lead to a slippery-slope that degrades the standards and values of the college. He believes that the integrity of many outweighs the individual desires and needs of an individual.
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