West Point Reveals Biggest Cheating Scandal in Decades

Academy argues the honor code remains intact, and the offending cadets will be punished
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2020 5:03 PM CST
West Point: 70 Cadets Cheated on Remote Exam
Army cadets march onto the field before the Army-Navy football game earlier this month.   (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Cheating on a math test at the US Military Academy, which is facing its worst cheating scandal in more than 40 years, can be a national security issue, a West Point law professor says. "There's no excuse for cheating when the fundamental code for cadets is that they should not lie, cheat or steal," Tim Bakken says. "Therefore when the military tries to downplay effects of cheating at the academy, we're really downplaying the effects on the military as a whole." Officials said more than 70 cadets cheated on a math exam taken remotely because of the pandemic, USA Today reports, 58 of whom have admitted it. West Point's chief of staff said Monday that the cheating wasn't a serious violation and wouldn't have happened if the cadets had been on campus. Others were more troubled. "It's very sad," said a 79-year-old Army veteran, per the Times Herald-Record. "In these times, the way things are going, people are doing desperate things."

Rep. Jackie Speier, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said greater transparency is required to get to the bottom of the issue. "Our West Point cadets are the cream of the crop and are expected to demonstrate unimpeachable character and integrity," she said. "They must be held to the same high standard during remote learning as in-person." Academy officials said this cheating scandal isn't as serious as the one in 1976, when 153 cadets resigned or were kicked out over an electrical engineering test. "They're early in their developmental process," one said. "And so on occasion, these incidents happen, but we have a system in place to deal with them when they do." Mark Weathers, the chief of staff, said. "Cadets are being held accountable for breaking the code." Instructors caught the cadets when they noticed that the cheaters had made the same mistake on one part of the test. (More West Point stories.)

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