51 West Point cadets forced to repeat a year after being caught cheating

Cadets in formation at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. (U.S. Department of Defense imagery)

Most of the 73 West Point cadets accused in the biggest cheating scandal in decades at the U.S. Military Academy are being required to repeat a year, and eight were expelled, academy officials said Friday.

The cadets were accused of cheating on an online calculus exam in May while students were studying remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic. Instructors had noticed irregularities in answers. All but one were freshmen, or plebes, in a class of 1,200. The other was a sophomore.

West Point said that of the 73 cases investigated by the cadet honor committee, six cadets resigned during the investigation, four were acquitted by a board of their peers, and two cases were dropped due to insufficient evidence.

Most of the cadets, 51, were "turned back" one full year after admitting to cheating, and two were turned back six months. Eight were removed from the academy.

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"West Point must be the gold standard for developing Army officers. We demand nothing less than impeccable character from our graduates," Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams said in a prepared release.

The academy also said it will end its 6-year-old "willful admission process," which is designed to protect cadets who promptly admit to wrongdoing from being kicked out. Officials determined the process was not meeting its goal of increasing self-reporting and decreasing toleration for violations of the honor code.

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The cheating scandal is the biggest at West Point since 1976, when 153 cadets resigned or were expelled for cheating on an electrical engineering exam.