More than 70 cadets accused in West Point’s worst cheating scandal in decades

Northeast

WEST POINT, N.Y. (NewsNation Now) — The prestigious U.S. Military Academy at West Point is dealing with its worst cheating scandal in decades, revealing some of the risks inherent in distance learning.

More than 70 West Point cadets have been accused of cheating on an exam while studying remotely, an academy spokesman told NewsNation. Fifty-nine cadets admitted to cheating on an online calculus exam in May. Most have been enrolled in a rehabilitation program and will be on probation until they graduate.

The cheating came to light when instructors grading the exam identified irregularities in the work.

“(The) West Point honor code and character development program remains strong despite remote learning and the challenges brought by the pandemic,”  Lt. Col. Christopher Ophardt said in a statement. “The Honors process is working as expected and there have been no exceptions to policy for any of these cases.”

Cheating during remote instruction is far from unique to West Point.

Elsewhere around the country, students taking a finance exam at Texas A & M were found to be answering questions faster than they could be read, according to one account. More than 150 students have been accused of cheating at the University of Missouri, allegedly using group chats after classes moved online. Computer science students at the University of Chicago were recently accused of copying code from each other.

It’s happening a lot more than most people realize, experts say, via  popular student websites like “Chegg” and “Discord.”

At a time when students at all levels are working alone, on their honor, parents say the temptation can be too much.

One, who did not want her name used, told NewsNation affiliate KXAN the effects are difficult to ignore.

“Your child is, you know, being impacted when the classmates are scoring higher and raising up in their class rank, etc., regardless of whether they are the one who is actively cheating,” she said.

Out of the 73 cases at West Point, two were dropped and four other cadets resigned. It’s not clear whether those resignations were related to the cheating allegations. Eight cadets said they are not guilty and will have a hearing on the accusations early next year.

Seventy-two of the cadets were freshman and one was a sophomore.

“Cadets are being held accountable for breaking the code,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Ophardt. “While disappointing, the Honor System is working, and these 67 remaining cases will be held accountable for their actions. “

The last major cheating incident at West Point was in 1976 when 152 upperclassmen were caught cheating.

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