WEST POINT, N.Y. — Cadet pillow fights like the bloody one that left 30 injured this summer will be banned and actions are being pursued against many of those involved, U.S. Military Academy officials said Wednesday.
First-year students, known as "plebes," organize the annual pillow fight as a way to build camaraderie after a grueling summer of training. But the pillow fight on Aug. 20 escalated into a free-for-all with plebes being hit from behind and knocked to the ground. Injuries included a broken nose, a fractured cheek and 24 diagnosed concussions, according to a report on the pillow fight released Wednesday.
"While never officially sanctioned, it is now officially banned, and we will take appropriate action to ensure that all faculty, staff, leaders, the Corps of Cadets and everyone at West Point knows that it will not be tolerated," West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen said in a statement.
There were reports that some cadets were injured by hard objects placed in pillow cases after photos and video of the melee circulated on social media. But the report said many injuries were caused instead by elbows and falls to the ground. One cadet was identified by military police as striking another cadet with a hard object in a pillow case. One cadet was found unconscious.
The report said upper-class cadets did not take proper control of the fight to ensure the safety of plebes. Caslen said the incident could have been prevented with better communication between cadet leadership and senior military personnel before the pillow fight.
"I'm troubled by the failure to mitigate and lead, and by the conduct of those whose actions contributed to this incident," Caslen said. "I am taking appropriate action based on these findings - to include administrative actions against senior military members and cadets alike - to send a clear message that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated at our nation's premiere military academy."