One of the nation's oldest military colleges has denied a Muslim student's request to wear a hijab over concerns about a lack of "uniformity." The president of the Citadel in South Carolina says "the standardization of cadets in apparel, overall appearance, actions, and privileges is essential to the learning goals and objectives of the college" and "reflects an initial relinquishing of self." He adds that officials still hope the student will join the class of 2020, per NBC News. No chance, the woman reportedly told Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, per the AP. Not only will the "heartbroken" student not attend the school unless officials change their minds, but she's considering legal options, Hooper says.
"She told the commandant it wasn't fair that she has to choose between practicing her faith and going to the Citadel," Hooper adds, per the Washington Post. The college says it supports cadets' spiritual and religious beliefs, "providing services for specific needs whenever possible." But its dress code is "famously strict," reports the Charleston Post and Courier. Two pages of exhaustive details in the cadet handbook note wrist watches must be "conservative," religious or medical tags must be hidden at all times, and female freshmen must keep their hair at no more than 3 inches in length. But Hooper says the school's decision on the hijab in particular is silly, given that the traditional Muslim headscarf is worn by Muslim women in the US military. (Read more Citadel stories.)