Officials at The Citadel are investigating a cadet's social media post containing "abhorrent racist statements," the college said Wednesday.
Citadel President Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa in a statement said he was alerted to the "disturbing" post Wednesday morning. He said the college's leadership team is investigating and is taking action in accordance with the college's rules and regulations.
"These statements represent the exact opposite of The Citadel’s core values of Honor, Duty and Respect that we teach and expect from the entire Citadel family," Rosa said.
Rosa's statement did not elaborate on the content of the post, but on Wednesday, a screenshot of a Snapchat surfaced on social media. The post contained a photo of a young man wearing a Citadel shirt with text that said he was upset that someone had just stolen his friend's bike. In the post, he used an expletive and the N-word to describe the suspect. The man wrote he was sorry to "sound racist."
"This morning I became aware of a disturbing social media post, which included abhorrent racist statements. These statements represent the exact opposite of The Citadel’s core values of Honor, Duty and Respect that we teach and expect from the entire Citadel family." (1/3) pic.twitter.com/NwhYJGza3y— The Citadel (@Citadel1842) January 31, 2018
Citadel spokesman Col. John L. Dorrian confirmed that the person in the screenshot is a current Citadel cadet but said he could not give the cadet's name due to federal student privacy laws. He said the Commandant's Office is gathering the facts.
The Blue Book, a list of rules for cadets, prohibits "inappropriate language, pictures or behavior on cell phone text messages and computers/networks, including social media." Punishments listed in the Blue Book range from expulsion to demerits to "tours," which consist of periods of silent marching in a barracks quadrangle.
"Consequences may vary based on the seriousness of the incident," Dorrian said.
Citadel student athletes and alumni spread the screenshot widely Wednesday morning on Twitter and Snapchat.
The Citadel made national news in December 2015 when images surfaced on Snapchat of cadets performing a Christmas skit wearing white pillowcases that resembled Ku Klux Klan hoods. The public military college suspended eight cadets for that incident.
Bruce Alexander, a 1982 graduate and head of the college's African American Alumni Association, applauded officials' "zero tolerance" approach to discrimination and said he hoped they act swiftly.
"Our job is continually to make sure that this doesn't repeat itself — that history doesn't repeat itself. They're addressing things that weren’t addressed when I was there," Alexander said.
For former football standout and 2001 graduate Travis Stephens, the latest incident and the 2015 Snapchat post raise the question of whether there's an "underlying" culture of racism at The Citadel.
"At some point, the question that a minority graduate from The Citadel has to ask themselves is … when you have isolated incidents that keep happening, they're no longer isolated. They're patterns," he said.