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West Point drops second chance program in crackdown on cheaters

In response to its worst academic scandal in decades, the US Military Academy at West Point will abandon a program that offers a second chance to cadets who break the code of honor that is at the heart of its mission, officials said on Friday.

The program, which the academy adopted several years ago, came under heavy criticism from some West Point graduates in December when officials revealed that 73 cadets had been accused of having cheated on a calculus exam last spring.

Critics of the program have said it reflects an overly lenient approach to dealing with serious breaches of the code of honor of the kind involved in the cheating scandal. West Point officials said in a statement on Friday that the program “has not hit its mark.”

The news that the academy would drop the Second Chance program came as officials revealed that 51 cadets who had been charged with cheating would be expected to repeat a full year, two more would be expected to repeat a half-year, and eight would be expelled.

Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, the academy superintendent, personally decided the punishment for each of the cadets caught up in the scandal.

“The principles of honorable living remain steadfast, and the results of our leader development system remain the same, to earn degrees from army officers who live honorably, lead honorably, and demonstrate excellence,” General Williams said in a statement. “West Point must be the gold standard for the development of army officers. We demand nothing less than impeccable character from our graduates.

Academy officials disclosed the moves, which were first reported by The Wall Street Journal, four months after revealing 73 cadets had been accused of cheating on the exam, which they had taken. remotely rather than on academy bases due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The cheating came to light shortly after the test was administered in May, when instructors noting it identified irregularities in the work the cadets had submitted, officials said. An investigation was opened and continued after the physical return of the cadets to the academy in June. The cheating suspects were confronted about this in the fall.

All but one of the cadets involved in the scandal were plebeians or freshmen at West Point; 52 were athletes representing 10 different teams, officials said.

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