Lawmakers look to improve cadet life at Coast Guard Academy - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lawmakers look to improve cadet life at Coast Guard Academy

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NEW LONDON, CT (WFSB) -

Citing accusations of "minority discrimination" at the prestigious U.S. Coast Guard Academy, community leaders hope to change the long-standing atmosphere and improve cadet life for future officers.

Claiming an atmosphere of discrimination hangs over the Academy in New London, State Rep. Chris Soto and other community leaders, called on Connecticut’s congressional delegation to clear the air and investigate the ongoing problem.

"They deserve a culture and an environment that is inclusive and not discriminatory,” said David McGuire, executive director of the Connecticut American Civil Liberties Union.

Four unnamed minority cadets made the accusations of continued discrimination in a recent local newspaper.

The NAACP wants the Academy to release its data on equity and diversity and wants partial and competent investigators assigned to look into discrimination charges in a timely manner.

"Take all allegations of bullying, harassment, and discrimination seriously,” said Jean Jordan, of the NAACP.

"I’ve lived behind those gates and I know how difficult it was for you to speak up so please know that we stand here with you and you're not alone,” said State Rep. Soto.

Soto is from New London and graduated from the Coast Guard Academy at the top of his class and served five years. 

As for the discrimination, he calls it "cyclical.”

“The Coast Guard Academy is not unique from other military academies and institutions of higher learning,” said Dr. Aram deKoven, Academy Chief Diversity Officer, in a statement. “We struggle to eradicate all traces of race and gender bias on our campus. And while cadet surveys do not point to widespread discrimination, we know that even one incident is unacceptable. So this is not an idle effort. We are committing people, time, and money to identifying potential barriers to an inclusive climate and then to act precisely to remove them.”

“Reports of discrimination or mistreatment are treated seriously,” deKoven continued to say, “and we have taken disciplinary action against staff and cadets to include removal from the institution where appropriate. Beyond responding, however, we are working aggressively in a variety of ways to detect and eliminate any inherent bias in our processes and have honest exchanges of ideas to help faculty, staff and cadets focus on respect and grow in their understanding of issues of inequity. We welcome help from our alumni, our neighbors and others who are willing to constructively partner with us.”

On Tuesday evening, community leaders are asking to meet with the Academy in hopes of helping to identify and eliminate any bias.

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