NROTC cancels event in response to explicit photo incident


NROTC cancellation email

Tristan Wade

Iowa State’s NROTC unit canceled its Dining-in event scheduled for Saturday night in response to news that several midshipmen posted inappropriate photos on a private Facebook group March 4.

“The social media issue from early March has garnered national media attention,” Capt. Scott Curtis, commanding officer of ISU’s NROTC, wrote in an email to the unit later obtained by the Iowa State Daily.

“My overarching goal is to ensure that all of you personally, as well as the reputation of the Cyclone Battalion as a whole, is protected to the maximum extent possible given the current media attention,” Curtis wrote in the email. “As part of that goal, I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion that we cannot conduct the Dining in tomorrow night.”

This decision came on the heels of an article published Thursday detailing seven midshipmen who were punished after posting explicit photos on Facebook in a private group related to the Sextant Society. 

According to Iowa State’s student organization database, the Sextant Society “promotes prestige of the US Naval activities at the ISU NROTC.”

Michael Tallon, president of Sextant Society, declined to comment Friday about the organization and referred all questions to his commanding officers, Curtis and Cmdr. Daniel Buhr.

In a separate email received by the Daily from a NROTC student, the midshipmen were instructed that if they were approached by media about this incident, to say “I am not authorized to comment,” and to then inform Curtis or Buhr.

The Iowa State Daily contacted five midshipmen Friday afternoon, all of whom refused to comment, saying, “I am not authorized to comment.”

Lt. Sean Brophy, a spokesman for the Naval Service Training Command, said to The Associated Press that the NROTC leaders were informed of the explicit photographs the day after they were posted March 4, and then took immediate action to ensure the photos were taken down from Facebook.

Brophy also said that “appropriate administrative actions” had been taken against the midshipmen.

Brophy said due to federal law, he could not comment on the specific disciplinary action, but the midshipmen will remain part of the NROTC program.

The explicit nature of the photos have not been released or reported, but an anonymous source told the Daily that the photos posted to the Facebook group were of genitalia. 

Iowa State’s Student Conduct Policy 4.2.4 Indecent Exposure states: “Indecent exposure, defined as intentionally, in a public place where other persons are present, exposing your genitals or other intimate parts of your body under circumstances where the exposure is reasonably likely to offend, annoy or alarm another person is prohibited.”

Brophy said the photos featured some of the cadets in various location on Iowa State campus.

In Curtis’ email, he said, “I don’t believe the media response is proportional to the event itself,” but the unit must still react appropriately.

Curtis and Buhr did not return multiple phone calls Friday afternoon.