The Citadel will not allow an incoming female Muslim student to wear a hijab with the college's military uniform.
Citadel President John Rosa said the decision was "essential" to the college's teachings.
"Uniformity is the cornerstone of this four-year leader development model. The standardization of cadets in apparel, overall appearance, actions and privileges is essential to the learning goals and objectives of the college," Rosa, a retired lieutenant general, said in a statement Tuesday.
The public military college in Charleston, South Carolina, has never made an exception to its uniform in its storied history. The Citadel is known for its strict, button-up uniforms that its cadets are mandated to wear nearly all of the time. The school has a 35-page booklet of rules and regulations.
Rosa emphasized that religious beliefs are still respected at the Citadel, and that the school works to provide whatever it can for a cadet's religious needs, such as special diets or time for prayer.
A spokeswoman for the family said the student will not attend the school this fall unless there is a change. Ibrahim Hooper with the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington said the family is also considering legal options.
"She told the commandant it wasn't fair that she has to choose between practicing her faith and going to the Citadel," Hooper said after telling the family of the Citadel's decision. "As far as legal action [is considered], all options are on the table."
In April, senior cadet Nick Pinelli was punished with 33 hours of marching after posting on Facebook that the school was considering whether to let an incoming cadet wear a hijab.
He has since graduated, and said in a message about the decision: "I believe a thoughtful decision was made by the Board of Visitors, the commandant of cadets, and the president. The decision was made after the most careful consideration by all involved and with an immense amount of concern for both equality and reason."