Most Of The West Point Cadets Who Cheated On A Virtual Exam Will Be Allowed To Remain Enrolled
Speaker 1: 00:00 Leaders at West point will allow most of the students involved in a major cheating scandal to remain at the military Academy. Late last year, 73 cadets were accused of collaborating on a virtual calculus exam. The scandal is raising questions about honor among the men and women who will become the Army's future leaders. Deseret Diorio reports for the American Homefront project. More than 50 of the accused cadets admitted, they cheated, but almost all of them will get a second chance West point enrolled them in a special program designed to rehabilitate students who violate the honor code shortly after the scandal became public. Last year four cadets resigned from the Academy and another eight could face tougher discipline West point superintendent Darryl Williams. Address the scandal at a congressional hearing this month. He defended the Academy's decision to allow most of the cadets. Speaker 2: 00:54 There was no excuse for violating United States, military Academy honor code, and I have all the tools I need to hold them accountable for that. And we will Speaker 1: 01:03 Tools like the rehabilitation program came about the last time, a large cheating scandal rock the Academy, 1976 back then the accused cheaters were kicked out and the army established a special commission to investigate. Craig Bruce Smith teaches military history at the army school of advanced military studies. He says the aftermath of 1976 is when Westpoint began to reassess what honor. And the honor code really means Speaker 2: 01:32 Honor was understood pretty widely throughout society and 18th into the 19th century, but it's very much faded from public discourse, public discussion in the 20th, 21st century. So how honor the honor code has been administered has changed greatly Speaker 1: 01:50 If speaking personally and not on behalf of the army, says the Academy began to allow more discretion in punishing honor code violations after the 1976 scandal. Speaker 2: 02:00 So rather than a black and white, if you have broken this, you are removed that there should be an ability to assess the situation, the circumstances, and to have a response that is not all or nothing. Speaker 1: 02:16 That's been the trend throughout higher education at non-military colleges, rehabilitation approaches like the kind at West point are much more common than outright dismissal when it comes to academic dishonesty. David Retton ger is the former head of the international center for academic integrity, Speaker 2: 02:34 Expulsion flies in the face of everything we understand about the psychology of ethical and moral behavior. Speaker 1: 02:40 That's partly because the section of the brain that makes you feel icky when you do something wrong. Isn't fully developed until around age 23 to 26 after college is over. Render says, rehabilitation seems in line with West point's mission to instill the values of duty honor and country. That doesn't necessarily Speaker 2: 03:00 Mean weeding people out who are imperfect because we're all imperfect. That means taking the best cadets we can and turning them into the best officers they can be, which means teaching them. And if there's no opportunity for redemption, what are we really teaching? Speaker 1: 03:14 Congresswoman Jackie spear of California who chairs the military personnel subcommittee says cadets accepted into elite. Military academies should be held to a higher standard. Speaker 2: 03:26 I'm going to say accountability that I frankly am very disappointed, does not exist in the academies right now. When you have know etched in the marble at West point, cadet will not lie cheat steal or tolerate those who do that should be crystal clear. Speaker 1: 03:44 Point leaders called the cheating extremely disappointing, but speaking to the congressional committee, superintendent Williams also noted the cadets faced an unusual situation during the pandemic Speaker 2: 03:57 Know men and women in a remote learning environment, some were challenged, uh, in terms of home life at home, they were away from their coaches, their teachers, and the structures that provide Speaker 1: 04:10 William's promised that the cadets will learn from this experience. I'm Deseret Diorio on long Island. This story was produced by the American Homefront project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting.