The Air Force Academy is reviewing its honor code in the wake of suspicion that hundreds of cadets cheated last spring after being sent home for online learning at the height of the pandemic.
Two of the nearly 250 cadets suspected are no longer at the academy. Most of the remainder have admitted to cheating and are on six months of probation and remediation, according to the service academy.
On Friday, it announced the review as well as the alleged infractions, which were discovered through faculty academic safeguards. Those infractions ranged from failing to properly cite sources and using unauthorized tutoring websites, to receiving solutions to exam questions in real time and completing final exams in small groups, according to an academy news release.
“The honor code is not only foundational to the Air Force Academy, but it serves as a guide for cadets to live an honorable life, whether serving in uniform or not," Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, the academy’s superintendent, said. “Honor serves as one of my fundamental institutional priorities for developing leaders of character.”
BROKEN CODE - FROM THE ARCHIVES:
The alleged violations occurred after officials sent approximately 3,000 of the school's 4,000 cadets home in March, in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, transitioning them from in-person to virtual learning. All alleged cheating cases involved freshmen, sophomores and juniors, according to the academy.
“Remediation is a consequence and not an act of leniency,” Clark said. “If earned, remediation provides an opportunity to reset the moral compass and deepen a cadet’s understanding of and respect for the honor code. Developing leaders of character is not without life lessons and learning from these mistakes.”
Per the honor code, cadets pledge to "not lie, steal, or cheat nor tolerate among us anyone who does.”
The incident is the first major honor code violation at the academy since 2011, according to Gazette records.
A cadet-led process to investigate honor code infractions of the cadets who didn’t admit to cheating is underway. The academy noted that COVID restrictions have slowed the process, but that accountability is paramount.
“We will let the process work for each cadet and go from there,” said Lt. Col. Michael R. Andrews, spokesman with the Air Force Academy.
The Honor Review Committee is partnering with AF Cyberworx to review the honor program, obtaining feedback from senior leaders, cadets, stakeholders and alumni to see how the system can be improved. Internal processes, structures and activities associated with the honor program will be examined, according to the academy.
“Findings and recommendations are great, but they don’t equal progress until action is taken that results in enduring positive change,” Clark said.