Coast Guard Academy faulted on response to racial incidents

FILE - In a Monday, July 1, 2019 file photo, U.S. Coast Guard Academy Superintendent Rear Adm. William G. Kelly and his wife Angie pose with the Class of 2023 for their class photo on Day One of Swab Summer in New London, Conn. The Department of Homeland Securitys inspector general says the U.S. Coast Guard Academy has failed to properly investigate and handle allegations of racial harassment, including the use of racial slurs by cadets.  (Sean D. Elliot/The Day via AP, File)
FILE - In a Monday, July 1, 2019 file photo, U.S. Coast Guard Academy Superintendent Rear Adm. William G. Kelly and his wife Angie pose with the Class of 2023 for their class photo on Day One of Swab Summer in New London, Conn. The Department of Homeland Securitys inspector general says the U.S. Coast Guard Academy has failed to properly investigate and handle allegations of racial harassment, including the use of racial slurs by cadets. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day via AP, File) (2019 The Day Publishing Company)

The U.S. Coast Guard Academy failed to properly address complaints of racial harassment, including the use of racial slurs by cadets, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general.

The academy in New London, Connecticut, said Monday it accepts the recommendations of the inspector general's report and is committed to “pursuing improvements to policies and procedures that govern the response and investigation of all allegations of harassment and misconduct."

The complaints investigated by the Inspector General's Office included episodes in which cadets used racial epithets, posed with a Confederate flag and watched and laughed at a blackface video in a common area.

Of 16 allegations of race-based harassment at the academy between 2013 and 2018 identified by the inspector general, the academy failed to properly investigate or handle 11 of them, the report said.

“Specifically, cadets alleged racial slurs, ignorant comments, and instances of disrespect were common on campus, and, when reported to leadership, were not taken seriously,” according to the report, dated June 3.

The report also found that harassing behaviors persist at the academy and that cadets are under-reporting instances of harassment in part because of “concerns about negative consequences for reporting allegations.”

The review began in June 2018 after several cadets raised concerns about racist jokes, disparities in discipline and the administration’s handling of what some saw as racial hostility.

The Coast Guard Academy said it has agreed to implement changes including mandatory training for academy personnel and cadets involved in instances of harassment or hate, mandatory training to cadets on how to recognize harassing behavior, and investigating and documenting any harassment involving race or ethnicity.