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The Citadel Denies Student’s Request to Wear Hijab

Imagine being accepted into one of your dream schools, but later having to reconsider their offer of acceptance because you cannot practice a staple of your religion.

This is the reality of a prospective Muslim American student at the Citadel, a military college in South Carolina. Although her identify has not been revealed, the school announced this week that her request to wear a hijab in addition to the mandatory uniform has been denied.

News broke of the prospective student’s request when Nick Pinelli, a recent graduate of the Citadel, posted a status on Facebook claiming that allowing the Muslim American student to wear her hijab would promote “inequality” among her fellow cadets.  

Due to the student’s commitment to her faith, a spokesperson for her family said that she will likely not attend the school. The family also plans to pursue legal action.

The president of the college, John Rosa, released a statement insisting that a common uniform is “essential to the learning goals and objectives of the college,” and the “standardization of cadets in apparel, overall appearance, actions and privileges is essential to the learning goals and objectives of the college,” according to ABC News. Had this change been permitted, it would have been the first change to the uniform in the college’s nearly 175 years.

The U.S. military changed its uniform policy in 2014 to allow individuals with deeply held religious beliefs to be able to express them through their clothing, as long as it had no effect on their performance. For example, a Sikh soldier would be allowed to wear a turban as part of his uniform. This is the example that The Citadel should be following. 

Kayla is a senior at Georgia State University, pursuing a degree in Multimedia Journalism and Spanish & Latin American Studies. She is a devoted mother to her Yorkie and Lifetime fanatic. Her other ventures include writing poetry, advocating for a plant-powered lifestyle, and interning at Seacrest Studios. Oh, and Willy's makes her world go 'round. ☼