The US Military Academy West Point has accused more than seventy cadets of cheating on a math exam, the largest cheating incident to occur at the elite school since 1976, according to CNN.
The school has accused seventy-three cadets of breaking the academy’s honor code, seventy-two of which were freshman. The students were accused of cheating on a calculus exam back in May, when the institution shifted to virtual classes due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Of the seventy-three students that have been accused, fifty-nine of them have already admitted to cheating on the exam. Most of these students have entered into a rehabilitation program and will likely be on probation for the remainder of their time at the academy. Some students have resigned and others face possible expulsion.
The scandal, which was first reported by USA Today, deals a devastating blow to the elite academy’s reputation. It is a clear degradation of the school’s honor code, which states:
“A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.”
Evidence of cheating was uncovered by instructors, according to Lt. Col. Christopher Ophardt, a spokesman for West Point. Instructors noticed that all seventy-three students had made the same error on a portion of the exam.
This is not the first time that the institution has been rocked by a major cheating scandal. In 1951, eighty-three cadets were expelled from the academy for cheating. And in 1976, 153 cadets were expelled or resigned from West Point after being accused of cheating on an electrical engineering exam. Other military academy’s have been involved in academic scandals, including the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy.
This latest cheating scandal has raised concerns for many about the integrity of the student body. Tim Bakken, a law professor at West Point, believes that the scandal is a national security risk. Many cadets at West Point go on to become important leaders that the nation relies on. The scandal reflects negatively on the overall institution of the military as a whole.
Since the news broke, West Point has been quick to respond to concerns about the integrity of the academy. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy stated: “The Honor process is working as expected and cadets will be held accountable for breaking the code.”
The misconduct seems to have resulted from the move to remote learning in the spring, which overturned college life all around the world— seemingly overnight. Many other institutions have discovered misconduct since switching to remote learning. The most notable of which being the University of Missouri, which has caught 150 students cheating during the past two semesters, according to USA Today.
In the wake of this scandal, West Point’s reputation has been tainted— but not destroyed. And the 218 year old institution has vowed to rectify the situation by holding the students involved responsible for their actions.