Citadel cadet punished for leaking hijab story on Facebook

SGuardsTwo weeks ago, Faye Higbee reported that the Citadel, a military college in South Carolina, is considering letting a Muslim female cadet wear a traditional head covering as part of her uniform.

But the story doesn’t end there.

On April 21, the Post and Courier reported that Nick Pinelli, the cadet who first leaked the story in early April, is being punished for posting about the request on Facebook.

Paul Bowers wrote:

The cadet, senior political science student Nick Pinelli, said officials at the public military college originally sought to charge him with behavior “unbecoming to a cadet,” a Class I offense that can lead to dismissal under the school’s disciplinary code. Instead, he said the school reduced the charge to “gross poor judgment” and handed him the maximum punishment: 40 “tours,” each consisting of 50 minutes of silent marching with a rifle in a barracks quadrangle. Pinelli, who has also been working as an intern for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, must complete the tours before graduating on May 7.

“If I valued liberal ideology, I would go to UC Berkeley,” Pinelli wrote.

Col. Brett Ashworth, a spokesman for The Citadel, declined to comment on the news, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

And, the Washington Post reported on April 22, it’s not the only exception the school is considering:

Nick Pinelli, a cadet expecting to graduate next month, said a school official told some students that the hijab is not the only accommodation being considered. He said he and others were told school officials were considering multiple possible exceptions, such as a covering for the students’ arms and legs during exercise, allowing her mandatory inspections to be conducted only by females, ensuring privacy in the barbershop when getting her hair cut, and a single room. An official contacted by The Post declined to comment, referring questions to the office of communications.

On Friday, Brett Ashworth, a Citadel spokesman, said the school is considering two specific requests from the student: That she be allowed to wear a hijab and that she be allowed to cover her arms and legs.

As far as we can tell, the school has not yet made a decision.  If they do, it will be a first, and could open the door to others who wish to display articles of their faith, like Christian crosses and Jewish yarmulkes.

What say you?  Should the school kowtow to this one student?  And should Pinelli be punished for making the request known?  Let us know in the comments below.



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Joe Newby

A 10-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Joe ran for a city council position in Riverside, Calif., in 1991 and managed successful campaigns for the Idaho state legislature. Co-author of "Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad," Joe wrote for Examiner.com from 2010 until it closed in 2016 and his work has been published at Newsbusters, Spokane Faith and Values and other sites. He now runs the Conservative Firing Line.

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