Sikh Student Wins Right to Enroll in ROTC, Maintain Beard and Turban

A U.S. District Court has ruled that Hofstra University student Iknoor Singh is not required to shave his beard, cut his hair, or stop wearing a turban in order to enroll in the U.S. Army’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).

The junior finance and business analytics major follows the Sikh religion, which forbids male followers from shaving or cutting their hair and requires them to cover their heads. Singh, who speaks four languages, aspires to work in military intelligence.

The U.S. Army changed its policy last year to allow troops to obtain waivers allowing them to wear religious clothing and take time for prayer. Approvals are made on a case-by-case basis depending on where the service member is stationed and whether the exception would affect his performance.

According to Hofstra spokeswoman Karla Schuster, the university “supports Singh’s desire to serve his country, as well as his right to religious expression and practice. We are pleased that the courts have affirmed that he can do both as a member of the ROTC.”


*This story was adapted from an Associated Press article from June 15, 2015.