Fourteen cadets at the Citadel, the Military School of South Carolina, in Charleston have been punished after a number of them appeared in photos wearing Ku Klux Klan-style hoods over their heads while caroling in early December, the New York Daily News reports. The punishments come after about a month of investigation.
The investigation was sparked after photos of the cadets began circulating online. The students were also accused of threatening and bribing one young woman who posted the photos online, in an attempt to get her to take them down. The freshmen were apparently ordered by upperclassmen to sing Christmas carols for a "Ghosts of Christmas Past" skit.
"The investigation found that the cadets did not intend to be offensive," school President John Rosa said in a statement, according to the Daily News. "However, I am disappointed some recognized how it could be construed as such but didn't stop it."
In the beginning, only eight cadets were under scrutiny, but the inquiry later expanded to include all 14 cadets who participated in the incident.
According to the Daily News, one junior was kicked out of the military college, while two upperclassmen were suspended for a semester. The remaining 11 cadets must march back and forth in the barracks shouldering a gun for 50 minutes at a time. Some cadets will have to do this for three weeks, while others will be disciplined in this manner for longer.
"At the outset, not all of the freshmen understood that the costumes could be construed by some as offensive," Rosa said.
The college president also indicated that a task force will be formed to make recommendations on campus climate for minorities. He said that this recent incident "demonstrates that we must integrate an even higher level of diversity education into cadets' daily activities."
Read more at the New York Daily News.