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22 Air Force Academy cadets kicked out for cheating

Cadets with the class of 2020 graduate at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., April 18, 2020. Nearly 1,000 cadets commissioned into both the U.S. Air and Space Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dennis Hoffman)
April 18, 2022

The U.S. Air Force Academy kicked out 22 of its cadets last week after they were reportedly caught cheating.

According to Air Force Magazine, Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark informed the academy’s Board of Visitors of the expulsions on Wednesday. In addition to the 22 cadets who have been kicked out of the academy, another 210 had been placed on probation.

The separations come after 249 students were accused of cheating in a range of different ways in Spring 2020, during an eight-day period in which the cadets were sent home and transitioned to an at-home curriculum.

The expulsion and probation decisions resolve nearly all of the cheating cases. The academy concluded no violation had occurred in seven of the cases, while another three cases were dropped for unspecified reasons. Other accused cadets have resigned and three cadets’ cases are either on hold or have a decision pending, according to Air Force Magazine.

Those placed on probation will typically lose the privileges of leaving campus, wearing civilian clothes, participating in sports or other clubs and holding jobs, according to Air Force Times. They are also typically required to complete journal entries and attend meetings for honor code-related discussions. The probation period typically lasts about six months.

231 of the accused cadets had ultimately admitted to cheating, according to information Clark shared with the Board of Visitors and reported by Air Force Times.

“We had some that were using unauthorized websites, some that plagiarized on papers, some that collaborated on tests when they weren’t authorized to do so,” Clark said. “It wasn’t just one group. It was just a bunch of different actions that we were made aware of.”

Clark said the cheating incident also prompted the academy to examine its honor code policies overall.

“First, we realized that we weren’t emphasizing the ‘why’—why is this important that our Cadets own the mantra of living honorably?” Clark said.

Clark also said, “We realized there was a lack of trust in the system, that they didn’t see the consistency in the way the honor code was administered.”

Clark said the academy has increased its staffing and curriculum for teaching and maintaining its honor code following the 2020 cheating episode.

Honor code violations have reportedly dropped from 311 cases in the 2020-2021 school year to 44 in the 2021-2022 year, according to Air Force Times. The 2020-2021 year represented the highest number of honor code violations in a year since 2009. The 2021-2022 period saw the lowest number of honor code violations in that same time period.