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Reader: It's called the "Honor Code" for a reason

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I believe that the sex scandal at the Air Force Academy is partly caused by what I call a climate of dishonor which is, in turn, caused by a failure to enforce the Academy’s Cadet Honor Code. The Academy does not seem to realize that there is something worse than having no code of honor at all and that is having a strict honor code that is not enforced. Failure to enforce high standards of honor results in a failure by cadets to check other forms of bad behavior such as sexual harassment. The fact that the Honor Code is not enforced has been well documented for over 30 years by Fred Malmstrom, a 1964 graduate of the Academy and someone who, after retiring from the Air Force, spent years researching the Honor Code. The Academy, however, refuses to even examine Malmstrom’s research in any thorough or systematic manner, meanwhile continuing to allege that the Honor Code is working just fine.

The Honor Code states, “We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.” Sadly, most everyone at the Academy, cadets included, know that violations are tolerated. Malmstrom’s research clearly shows that toleration of honor violations has risen steadily for the entire 30-year period of his surveys. The Academy should either change the wording of the Honor Code to mandate a softer (lower) standard or enforce the higher standards of the current language (my preference). If the Honor Code were being enforced, a climate of honor would pervade the cadet wing which would result in cadets refusing to tolerate, not only honor violations, but also other bad behavior.

— Col. Roy Miller, USAF (Ret.), Air Force Academy ’67

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