The Citadel won't ban the fight song "Dixie" or Confederate flag waving at football games, but the college's president said Friday that cadets must be sensitive that such symbols also offend blacks.
The playing of "Dixie" is part of The Citadel's tradition, President Claudius Watts told the Board of Visitors, the military school's governing board. The Confederate flag, although not flown on campus, is often waved by fans at football games."What we need to do is strike a balance and understand what our heritage is and also where we are today," Watts said.
"The corps is more sensitive than ever about the implications and repercussions of people who do not conduct themselves according to common decency."
Watts was reporting to the board on a study of race relations undertaken last year after allegations of prejudice at The Citadel. The college's 1,893-member corps of cadets includes 132 blacks.
The study recommended the school find another fight song and restrict "Dixie" to special events. It also recommended cadets be banned from displaying any flags while in uniform.
The school doesn't fly the Confederate flag, and flags are banned in students' rooms. But the flags show up at football games, often brought by friends or relatives of cadets.
"I'm really upset The Citadel has the flag issue so prominently hung around its neck," Watts said. " `Dixie,' that's fair, but not the flag."
"Dixie," a celebration of the South, was written by Daniel D. Emmett in 1859. Its title was taken from the name of a black character in a minstrel play.
Board member Larry Ferguson, who is black, said it became The Citadel's fight song in the 1950s in reaction to court desegregation decisions.
But Watts said, "The corps of cadets understands the sensitivity of `Dixie,' " adding he was sure it would be played in a way "that will not be taunting."