Air Force Academy head speaks out against racism in passionate speech

Posted at 2:35 PM, Sep 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-29 17:38:38-04

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — "If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out," the U.S. Air Force Academy's preparatory school Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, said to students at an assembly Thursday.

Silveria’s blunt warning comes after a racially-charged incident discovered Tuesday morning on the U.S. Air Force Academy campus. Someone wrote racial slurs on message boards outside the dormitory rooms of five black students at the preparatory school.

Silveria told the 4,000 cadets gathered in the hall that they should be outraged by the incident.

"You should be outraged not only as an airman, but as a human being," Silveria said. "That kind of behavior has no place at the prep school, it has no place at USAFA, and it has no place in the United States Air Force."

Watch the powerful speech posted on the U.S. Air Force Academy's official YouTube channel:

Racial slurs are illegal in the military and can bring charges of violating orders and conduct unbecoming an officer.

The preparatory school has a 10-month program for potential cadets who applied for the four-year academic and military program at the academy but were not accepted. The goal is to help them meet academy requirements.

The prep school usually accepts about 240 students. The academy itself has about 4,000 students.

Silveria took command at the school in August and has repeatedly told cadets and staff that his highest priority is ensuring a climate of dignity and respect.

The academy has struggled with sexual misconduct problems several times in recent years but few racial incidents have been made public.

About 29 percent of the academy's cadets were minorities in 2015, according to the school's website. Ten percent were Hispanic, 10 percent Asian and Pacific islander, 8 percent black and 1 percent Native American.

No more recent statistics were immediately available.