30 hurt, as traditional pillow fight at West Point turns rough

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West Point thrives on tradition, including a mass pillow fight held on campus to give first-year students a chance to blow off steam after a “tough first summer” of basic training, said academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr. in a statement.

But, the pillow fight held this year on August 20 got rough, with 30 members of the class of 2019 requiring medical attention and 24 suffering concussions, Caslen said. Other injuries included a broken nose, a dislocated shoulder and a hairline fracture of a cheekbone.

All the students have now returned to duty.

Caslen didn’t say how the injuries occurred, but an investigation has been started.

The New York Times, which broke the story, reported some plebes swung pillow cases containing hard objects.

A video posted on YouTube showed several hundred students pouring into a courtyard and swinging pillowcases in a disorganized manner.

“While these spirit events do occur, we never condone any activity that results in intentional harm to a teammate,” Caslen said. “Although the vast majority of the class appears to have maintained the spirit of the event, it is apparent that a few did not.”

He said medical personnel will follow up with the injured students.

Caslen also said he takes full responsibility for the pillow fight.

“We remain committed to the development of leaders of character,” he said. “We will continue our investigation, ensure accountability and reinforce with the Corps that we must all take care of our teammates.”

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