By Shawn Chitnis

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– The U.S. Air Force Academy confirmed Thursday it is investigating a racial slur written on the message boards of five cadet candidates attending the Academy’s Preparatory School and reiterated there is no place for racism in the Air Force.

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“If you’re outraged by those words, then you’re in the right place,” said Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, superintendent of the Academy. “That kind of behavior has no place at the Prep School, at USAFA, and in the United States.”

(credit: CBS)

A photo shared on Facebook shows a dry erase board with the words, “go home n-word” written on a dorm for cadet candidates at the Prep School.

“You should be outraged as an airman and as a human being,” the superintendent said.

Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, superintendent of the Air Force Academy (credit: CBS)

Lt. Gen. Silveria spoke to faculty, staff, and thousands of cadets at the Academy during lunch. Some were learning about the use of the racial slur for the first time. He acknowledged that no place will ever be completely free of racism.

“I would be naive and we would all be naive to think that everything is perfect here,” said Silveria.

Air Force Academy (credit: CBS)

He called on everyone to celebrate their unique backgrounds that make them stronger together.

“The appropriate response for horrible language and horrible ideas, the appropriate response is a better idea,” he said.

The Prep School is a 10-month program that helps cadet candidates enter into the Academy.

Silveria says that better idea is the unity they can all show as cadets and members of the Air Force.

“The power that we come from all walks of life,” he said. “That we come from all parts of this country, that we come from all races, from all backgrounds, genders, all makeup, all upbringing, the power of that diversity comes together and makes us that much more powerful.”

(credit: United States Air Force Academy)

Silveria did not repeat what was written but made it clear his words were directed to those who wrote on the dorm message boards.

“No one can write on a board and question our values,” he said. “No one can take that away from us.”

The Academy says the 10th Security Forces Squadron is investigating the matter and that no one can comment any further at this time.

The strong message sent by the superintendent was a combination of highlighting the diversity at the Academy but also stating to everyone in attendance that intolerance will not be accepted. He told everyone in the room to take out their cell phones and record part of his speech so they can keep with them the expectations of the Academy on this issue.

The United States Air Force Academy (Photo by: AFP/Getty Images)

“If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then you need to get out,” he said. “If you can’t teach someone from another gender whether that’s a man or a woman with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you demean someone in any way, then you should get out. And if you can’t treat someone from another race or a different color skin with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.”

Shawn Chitnis reports for CBS4 News at 10 on weekends and CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. throughout the week. Email him story ideas at and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

Comments (3)
  1. Arne Yoga says:

    I’ll go out on a limb here and state that the racist(s) who wrote these vile messages are big supporters of Trump.

  2. Racism, definitely. More importantly.. anyone under the age of 60 doesn’t have the education, knowledge, experience, empathy, disappointment, rationale or any other quality that enables them to actually perform their duties as they should. It is most definitely the responsibility of their commanders to teach these attributes that they have not yet encountered. If the commanders (who are now leading but were 20-somethings in my era) cannot foresee the potential problems that will decimate — from within — their troops whom they might lead into battle, the fault is so much deeper than an academy or one particular officer. It’s inherent in our culture. It should be a much publicized and politically supported endeavor — no, mandate — that the people who want to serve and protect us will not be ostracized and ridiculed or harassed in any form. And why should this even be mentioned? What would make people of today believe they are above anyone? In the 1960s and 1970s, we tried to ensconce everyone. Why has this insidious racism become so prominent now? Let me guess: trump.

  3. Tim Mroczek says:

    Seriously out of place! If these clowns have time for racial foolishness that means they are neglecting something important.

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