IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Members of a military officer training program at Iowa State University posted explicit photos on a Facebook page, an incident the Navy said Thursday was inappropriate and prompted corrective actions.
Lt. Sean Brophy, a spokesman for the Naval Service Training Command, said the March 4 incident involved seven members of the school’s Naval Reserve Officer Training program.
The explicit photos showed some cadets at different locations around the university campus in Ames. They were posted to a Facebook page for the Glorious Order of the Sextant, a student group connected to the NROTC program that “promotes prestige of the US Naval activities.”
Brophy said NROTC program leaders were informed of the incident the next day and took quick action to ensure the pictures had been removed from Facebook.
“We take this issue very seriously and categorically do not condone this behavior — it has no place in our military or society, and it does not comport with our core values,” said Brophy, who confirmed the incident after receiving an inquiry from The Associated Press.
It wasn’t clear how many photos were posted, whether they were posted without the subjects’ consent and if all those involved were male.
The incident comes as the military faces pressure to do more to stop inappropriate online activity following a scandal in which Marines shared nude photos of female service members on social media. The Navy and the Marine Corps told a congressional panel last month they are considering new ways to punish such activity.
Brophy said “appropriate administrative actions” have been taken against the midshipmen involved but that they remain part of the program. He said he could not comment on the specifics of any discipline due to federal privacy law.
The commanding officer of the program, Capt. Scott Curtis, notified the university’s academic leaders — the dean of the college of liberal arts and the university provost — about the incident and apologized “that this was even something coming from his midshipmen,” Brophy said.
Curtis has also trained the entire 68-member battalion on proper social media behavior and reinforced Navy values, Brophy said. He noted that the students were not in uniform in the photographs, and that they were not taken as part of any NROTC program event. An initiation ceremony for new members of the Glorious Order of the Sextant had occurred the night before.
Michael Tallon, the president of the student group, said he wasn’t involved but that he could not comment on the incident.