This petition addresses specifically the pervasive discriminatory practices of officer candidate schools (OCS) across the Nation. This petition is not an effort to discredit the U.S. Military. It is our love for this institution that pushes us to act.
This petition came to life after many officer candidates were the subject of abuses by some leaders from the Maryland Army National Guard Officer Candidate School. One black officer candidate was treated unfairly during phase III where his evaluator discriminated against him and his commander interfered in his lane evaluation to push him out of the program. Another black candidate was asked to put a chain around his neck as a punishment and was disenrolled from the program. Some Asian candidates were deliberately pushed out of the program and treated unfairly. At the same time, a white candidate failed his APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test) twice, but was afforded to advance to the next phase of the program. Those abuses and double standard mentioned are just a few examples and only represent the surface of a bigger systemic issue that has been left unaddressed for far too long by the National Guard Bureau.
This petition has two folds. First, we want an independent investigation into those abuses going back to 2015 when Maj. Timothy Cushatt was in charge of Maryland Officer Candidate School while requesting disciplinary action against the abusers and direct commissioning for those people who were abused as determined by the investigation. Second, we recommend these changes below to ensure that future minority candidates are not the subject of discrimination and abuses.
Our recommendations are as followed:
1. Allow all evaluations to be transparent and reduce subjectivity during these evaluations. For example, all pen and paper tests should be replaced by computer generated tests that produce the result of the test immediately after completion of the test. For tests that are difficult to be computerized due to their nature, they should be graded by someone who has no direct contact with the candidates and each test should be coded with a number. The candidates would keep a test receipt that has a matching number with the hard copy of the test. The results could be posted openly using these numbers.
2 Each OCS class should have an EO (equal opportunity) representative in addition to other leadership positions of the class. This officer candidate, EO representative, should report to an EO officer in case of any complaints of wrong doing during the course of the training. The EO officer should be available during all phases of training and evaluation.
3. The EO officer should be a civilian who cannot be subjected to intimidation by the commanding officer. The EO officer should report directly to a liaison in the National Guard Bureau, Office of Equal Opportunity. The EO officer should report all infractions (big or small) related to racism or discrimination to the National Guard Bureau.
4. During evaluation at any phase, if a candidate has a claim of discrimination, the candidate should be sent to the office / tent of his EO officer. The EO officer should be familiar with the requirements of each phase of the program. The EO officer should be a civilian minority who went through OCS. A prior victim of discrimination could be a great criterion of choosing an EO officer.
5. When a candidate is recommended for removal due to poor performance at any phase of the program, it should be done in the presence of an EO officer. If the candidate contests the decision of the commanding officer because he or she felt discriminated against, The EO officer should help the candidate in the appeal process. While awaiting the appeal, the candidate should continue with all other events scheduled during the phase.
6. The board of appeal should convey its hearing during the phase in question. The EO officer candidate should also be part of the board of appeal. The claimant officer candidate should be allowed to subpoena witnesses. If the board of appeal determines that a dismissal was unfair, the board of appeal should recommend a new evaluator and allow the officer candidate to resume his/her evaluation in the area in question, but this time with the EO officer as an observer. If the decision of the board is not favorable to the officer candidate, he/she should be given the tools to file a formal complaint to the National Guard bureau office of Equal Opportunity if so desired.
7. The Commanding Officer should never interfere with the work of a grader during lane evaluation. Any interference should result in disciplinary action. Graders should sign an agreement not to ever discuss their evaluation or talk about any officer candidate from their lane during the evaluation period. Failure to do so should result in disciplinary action.
8. If an officer candidate was being reevaluated by another grader, the new grader should not have any information as to who the previous grader was, and the former grader should avoid all contact with the new grader to avoid any perception of cohesion between the former and the new grader.
9.Graders should give the result of an officer candidate’s performance on the spot regardless of the situation. Graders cannot give any result after consultation with the commanding officer or another grader.
The U.S. Military is always at the forefront of progress in our society. We cannot let the abusive actions of a few distort the image of this institution that we hold greatly in our hearts. We love the U.S. military for the opportunity that it has given us to serve our country and to better our lives. This petition and its recommendations is our way of giving back.