When news spread that The Citadel was considering the first-ever exception to its strict uniform requirements to allow an admitted student to wear a hijab in keeping with her Muslim faith, reaction was intense. Some welcomed the possibility as an important symbol of religious freedom, but for many in the tight-knit community of cadets and alumni, the very idea of an exception was anathema because the ideals of loyalty, uniformity, and corps-before-self are so central to the storied public military college's mission and traditions.
And at a time when the role of Islam in U.S. culture is so divisive — with national leaders and political candidates arguing whether the religion is one of violence or whether the fight against extremist terrorists is in no way a fight against the Muslim faith — the idea of making an exception for a Muslim student was particularly powerful for many on campus and far beyond.
But that might not be the only change allowed for the admitted student, should she choose to attend the school in Charleston, S.C. The Citadel has considered other possible accommodations, according to a cadet who says a school official discussed possible exceptions to the public military college's rigid code in meetings with students.