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51 West Point cadets must repeat a year over cheating scandal

Cadets train at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. (Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture, Wikimedia Commons/Released)
April 21, 2021

Fifty-one cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point are being required to repeat a full year while two cadets are being required to repeat six months of courses after the academy caught 73 cadets in a cheating scandal during a May 2020 freshman calculus exam.

On Friday, West Point announced, “Of the 73 cases investigated by the cadet honor committee, six cadets resigned during the investigation, an additional four cadets were acquitted by a board of their peers, and two cases were dropped due to insufficient evidence. Of the resulting 61 cases that were fully adjudicated, eight were separated, 51 were turned back one full year, and two were turned back six months.”

West Point’s decision comes after the academy announced in December that 73 cadets were suspected of cheating during an exam that was administered remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions. Investigators initially said they identified the cheating when instructors grading the exam found irregularities in the mathematical work submitted by cadets.

The incident is the largest case of suspected cheating at West Point since 1976, when 153 cadets resigned or were expelled for cheating on an electrical engineering exam.

West Point said, all cadets caught in the cheating incident automatically received a course grade of “F”, lost cadet rank and lost privileges. All cadets remaining at the academy after the incident are also barred from participating in NCAA competitions, club sport competitions, club trips, semester abroad, academy exchange programs, brigade open finals, and public relations until the Superintendent approves completion of their Special Leader Development Program for Honor. The program typically takes four to six months to complete.

“Character development is the most important thing we do at West Point. It is critical to building leaders for our Army,” said Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams. “The tenets of honorable living remain immutable, and the outcomes of our leader development system remain the same, to graduate Army officers that live honorably, lead honorably, and demonstrate excellence. West Point must be the gold standard for developing Army officers. We demand nothing less than impeccable character from our graduates.”

On Friday, West Point also announced it would be suspending its willful admission process, which allowed qualified cadets to admit to cheating and avoid being separated from the academy. Of the 73 accused cadets, 55 immediately admitted to their actions through the willful admission program. The academy said, “The review determined that the willful admission process was not meeting the desired intent of increasing self-reporting and decreasing toleration. Therefore, the academy has decided to end the program. Ending the program means that separation will be a potential punishment for any honor violation.”