Air Force Academy superintendent responds to racial incident at prep school

Lt. General Jay Silveria, the superintendent of the Air Force Academy, didn't mince words when responding to an incident where racial slurs were written on a message board at the academy's prep school. His message was simple: If you can't respect others, "get out." (U.S. Air Force Academy)

One of the five black Air Force Academy preparatory school cadet candidates who had racial slurs written on their dormitory message boards has admitted to writing the slurs, the academy said in a Tuesday statement.

The cadet candidate is no longer a student at the prep school, said Lt. Col. Allen Herritage, spokesman for the academy.

“Racism has no place at the academy, in any shape or form,” Herritage said. “We will continue to create a climate of dignity and respect for all, encourage ideas that do so, and hold those who fail to uphold these standards accountable.”

In an emailed statement, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, superintendent for the academy, stressed that these actions were unacceptable, no matter who was responsible.

“Regardless of the circumstances under which those words were written, they were written, and that deserved to be addressed,” Silveria said. “You can never over-emphasize the need for a culture of dignity and respect ― and those who don’t understand those concepts aren’t welcome here.”

The racial slurs were discovered outside the dorm rooms of the black cadet candidates in late September. One cadet candidate’s mother posted a photograph of the slur online and expressed her outrage.

That cadet candidate’s father said in an interview with Air Force Times at the time that he felt the academy was taking the right steps to address the issue, and that he did not see his son as a victim.

“The word has zero power in my house. Zero power,” the father said.

Silveria sternly denounced the slur incident in an address to the entire academy Sept. 28. Video of Silveria’s speech went viral online and was aired extensively on national news networks.

“Just in case you‘re unclear about where I stand on this topic ... if you can’t treat someone from another race or a different color skin with dignity and respect, then you need to get out,” Silveria said.

The academy said that its investigation into the racial slur incident is now complete, and that it would not discuss further details due to Privacy Act restrictions.