by Pam Zubeck
As we reported in today's paper, the Air Force Academy is investigating a raft of cadets for cheating on a match exam, the latest black eye at the institution that prides itself on its honor code that requires cadets to not lie, cheat or steal or tolerate anyone among them who does.
Sources tell the Indy that many of those caught up in the cheating incident are athletes. Because the academy will grant most of the cadets honor probation, which lasts six months and bars cadets from participation in Division 1 sports, the academy's fall sports teams could suffer. Which means the football team.
The cheating investigation is the latest in a string of embarrassments for the academy. Last year, several cadets were investigating for illegal use of a drug called Spice; this year, another 31 were similarly investigated. Asher Clark, star running back, was expelled right before graduation.
The most recent widespread cheating scandal at the academy took place in 2007, again involving freshmen. Of those investigated, 27 admitted to it, including 25 athletes, and 17 were found in violation of the honor code.
Does yet another instance in a series spanning the past 50 years mean that cheating has become something of a tradition at the nation's military academies?
Actually, the Air Force Academy is using the latest episode to say its honor code works, because most of those caught at cheating took "full responsibility" for their actions. After the fact, of course.
Here's the academy's release:
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Academy officials announced today that up to 78 cadets used unauthorized resources—a web math program—during an online Mathematics 142 (Calculus) Fundamental Skills Exam (FSE). The cadets involved independently accessed a website that was authorized for use on homework, but not for the exam. There is no evidence of collusion—each cadet acted on his or her own. Mathematics 142 is a freshman calculus course.
Most of the cadets have taken full responsibility for their actions, and as a result have begun an intensive, individualized six month remediation program. During this program, they will participate in reflection, journaling, and mentoring with senior officers and cadet honor representatives.
“Penalties for cadets can range from honor probation to disenrollment, and that process is being worked through the Cadet Honor Code,” said Lt. Col. John Bryan, Academy Director of Public Affairs. “Cadet Honor Representatives along with USAFA staff are fully engaged to determine who potentially had an unfair advantage in taking the basic FSE test. The fact that many of these cadets owned up to their mistakes tells us our process in developing these leaders of character is working.”
“We are disappointed in this small number of our nearly 4,200 cadets. However, this review sends a strong message to all that if there are suspicions that a cadet uses unauthorized resources we will hold them accountable in accordance with the Academy Honor System,” Bryan added. “We expect the very best of our cadets.”
Updates will be released as they become available.