The National Action Network has called for the resignation of Citadel President Lt. Gen. John Rosa, as well as the expulsion of eight cadets following the release of controversial photos showing the students with white pillowcases on their heads resembling Klan hoods. In addition to Rosa’s resignation, NAN also calls for the end of all county, state, and federal funding for the school until this matter is resolved and the removal of the Confederate Naval Jack from the school’s Summerall Chapel.
“National Action Network stands to say that The Citadel’s core values have been compromised, not only by eight cadets, but by those who lead them,” said the activist organization in a statement released Friday.
According the school officials, suspension proceedings for the cadets involved with the incident began immediately following the discovery of the photos.
The National Action Network was not alone in their demands for harsher punishment for the cadets involved and the removal of the Confederate flag from school grounds. On Thursday, state Sen. Marlon Kimpson released a statement, saying, “This kind of behavior is absolutely unacceptable and these students should be expelled. They have dishonored The Citadel, the people of Charleston, and the people of South Carolina. I have spoken to General Rosa and he has assured me that pending the outcome of the school’s investigation, whatever action that is within his power he will take, including expulsion.”
He added, “Yet we cannot be satisfied by simply punishing this bad behavior. We must uproot it forever. Flying the Confederate flag in Summerall Chapel damages our community, our spirit as a people and gives comfort to the students who committed this act. Taking it down from the inside of the chapel should be the first step towards moving forward. We must follow the flag’s removal from the chapel with substantive and progressive action so that students have mutual respect for one another.”
State Rep. Wendell Gilliard has also called for the expulsion of all students found to be involved with the photos.
Both campaigns for presidential candidates Gov. Martin O’Malley and Hillary Clinton have spoken out in favor of removing the Confederate flag from the school chapel.
“It’s time for the state legislature to amend the Heritage Act to allow for The Citadel to follow the lead of its Board of Visitors and finally remove the Confederate Naval Jack flag from the Summerall Chapel,” said O’Malley’s South Carolina Director Tyler Jones. “The horrific pictures that surfaced today serve as a reminder that racism and intolerance still exist on college campuses and a public institution of higher learning should not be home to such a divisive and offensive symbol.”
Hillary for South Carolina State Director, Citadel graduate, and former City Paper contributor Clay Middleton released a statement, saying, “I am appalled by these photos and disturbed that cadets would find it acceptable to dress up as they did. I trust that my alma mater will do the right thing and increase their efforts to prevent such behavior. ‘Diversity and inclusion’ must not just be an office, but rather it must reflect a culture of awareness and respect.”
He added, “Racism on campus is an ugly but real truth facing students at colleges across the country. Disturbing incidents like this push intolerance to the surface. People of color all too often face subtle, everyday racism at school and work. We must continue to confront the hard truths of our past by correcting the inequities facing African-Americans in South Carolina in our schools, prisons, and neighborhoods.”
Clinton took to Twitter Friday, writing, “Symbols of hate create more hate. It’s time for the Confederate flag to come down at The Citadel.”