West Point Cadet Honor Code and Honor System

West Point's Cadet Honor Code: "A Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do."

West Point Character Education Program and Character Integration Advisory Group

Here is a brief overview of the West Point Character Education Program and the newly established Character Integration Advisory Group. The video discusses the overarching USMA Character Education Framework and provide a cadet perspective regarding implementation across the Honor, Respect, and Trust programs within the Corps of Cadet. 

 

“The mission of the United States Military Academy is to produce leaders of character.  The Cadet Honor Code provides the foundation for character development at West Point.  The ideals affirmed in the Honor Code attract to West Point young men and women who aspire “to live above the common level of life.”  The unyielding requirements of the Code instruct, motivate, and ultimately shape Cadets during their years at the Academy.  Most importantly, effects of the Code continue to guide and inspire graduates during their years of military service and beyond.  More than any other aspect of West Point, the Honor Code unites the “Long Gray Line” of Cadets and graduates by expressing their shared commitments to personal integrity and professional responsibility.” (Paragraph 1-1 in USCC PAM 15-1) 

Definitions of the tenets of the Honor Code

Lying: Cadets violate the Honor Code by lying if they deliberately deceive another by stating an untruth or by any direct form of communication to include the telling of a partial truth and the vague or ambiguous use of information or language with the intent to deceive or mislead.

Cheating: A violation of cheating would occur if a Cadet fraudulently acted out of self-interest or assisted another to do so with the intent to gain or to give an unfair advantage. Cheating includes such acts as plagiarism (presenting someone else's ideas, words, data, or work as one's own without documentation), misrepresentation (failing to document the assistance of another in the preparation, revision, or proofreading of an assignment), and using unauthorized notes.

Stealing: The wrongful taking, obtaining, or withholding by any means from the possession of the owner or any other person any money, personal property, article, or service of value of any kind, with intent to permanently deprive or defraud another person of the use and benefit of the property, or to appropriate it to either their own use or the use of any person other than the owner.

Toleration: Cadets violate the Honor Code by tolerating if they fail to report an unresolved incident with honor implications to proper authority within a reasonable length of time. "Proper authority" includes the Commandant, the Assistant Commandant, the Director of Military Instruction, the Athletic Director, a tactical officer, teacher or coach. A "reasonable length of time" is the time it takes to confront the Cadet suspected of the honor violation and decide whether the incident was a misunderstanding or a possible violation of the Honor Code. A reasonable length of time is usually considered not to exceed 24 hours.

To have violated the honor code, a Cadet must have lied, cheated, stolen, or attempted to do so, or tolerated such action on the part of another Cadet. The procedural element of the Honor System examines the two elements that must be present for a Cadet to have committed an honor violation: the act and the intent to commit that act. The latter does not mean intent to violate the Honor Code, but rather the intent to commit the act itself.

To read the Superintendent's message about the Cadet's Honor Code and Honor System at West Point, click here

Cadet Honor Code and Honor System Fact Sheet

Step 1 – Notify cadet of allegation of an honor violation, detailing the type of violation.

              Encourage the cadet to report the violation to an honor representative.

Step 2 – Inception (Investigative Team assigned)

            -Triggers Administrative Flag-

Step 3 – If a Cadet contests the allegations, the case will proceed to an Honor

             Investigative Hearing (HIH)

  • To determine if a Cadet violated the Honor Code, a board of nine (9) Cadets convenes
  • After hearing all the evidence, board members will deliberate and vote on whether a violation of the Cadet Honor Code occurred
  • A two-thirds majority vote (6 out of the 9 members) is required to find that the Respondent violated the Cadet Honor Code based on the preponderance of the evidence.

If Found to have violated the Honor Code, the Cadet faces the following consequences:

Immediate:

  • Reduction in rank to Cadet PFC
  • Loss of privileges
  • Loss of pass, off-post, and walking privileges
  • Academic “F” (if applicable)
  • Enrollment in the Special Leader Development Program for Honor (SLDP-H)

Commandant’s decisions (at the Commandant’s meeting):

  • Military grade of “F”
  • Removal from duty position
  • Reassign to a new company

Superintendent’s decisions (at the Superintendent’s adjudication):

  • Adjudication decision which can include December Graduation, a 1-year  Turnback, enrollment in the Academy Mentorship Program (AMP), or Separation from the Academy.
  • The Superintendent has the option to suspend a Cadet from representing the Academy.

(per AR150-1): The Academy Mentorship Program (AMP) is an opportunity offered by the Secretary of the Army to those cadets whose present conduct, as displayed by a violation of the cadet honor code, indicates a level of maturity inconsistent with continued service in the Corps of Cadets, but whose other indicators of performance and potential merit the opportunity to demonstrate professional-ethical behavior and commitment through performance on active duty as an enlisted Soldier in an Army unit. 

The Academy Mentorship Program is a remedial developmental opportunity in which the former cadet serves 8-12 months in one of the following branches: Infantry, Armor, Field Artillery, Engineer, Military Police, or Logistics.  The former cadet will be appointed a staff or faculty member from USMA to serve as the former cadet’s coach who will develop a documented developmental program that serves as a guide to the ex-cadet’s remedial actions while serving as an enlisted Soldier. If the ex-cadet successfully completes the Academy Mentorship Program, the ex-cadet may re-apply to USMA.  
 

The Willful Admission Process (WAP) began in the Spring of 2016 and was ended in April 2021.  Its intended purpose was to encourage Cadets to take responsibility for their honor violation and reduce the barriers to reporting honor violations.  When it was in effect, Cadets enrolled in the WAP were not separated. Cadets were required to admit on their own or within 24 hours after an approach for clarification; demonstrate a sincere desire for growth; have no prior honor violations; and not have a record of misconduct.  The Cadet Honor Captain made the decision to approve Cadets for enrollment into the WAP. The Superintendent had the authority to remove a cadet from the WAP if they are not meeting the criteria outlined.  

SLDP-H facilitates character growth after an honor violation.  A Developmental Coach (DC) helps the Cadet examine and modify their behavior, thoughts, values, and beliefs.  The DC’s are members of the staff and faculty who volunteer about 50 hours of their time.  An SLDP-H completed to standard is roughly equivalent to a 2.0 credit course.  The final packet is reviewed by the Cadet Honor Committee and the chain of command prior to the Cadet reporting to the Superintendent for final approval of completing the program to standard.  If the Cadet does not complete the program or demonstrates insufficient growth, the Cadet will be separated from the Academy. 

A Cadet Advisory Board (CAB) will occur when a Cadet is found at an HIH (immediately following), or a Cadet admits to an Honor Violation. The purpose of the CAB is to discuss the overall character of the Respondent. The merits of the case should not be the focus of the CAB

The CAB will hear testimony from:

  • The Respondent
  • The board’s character witnesses (TAC and Cadet Company Commander)
  • The Respondent’s character witnesses (optional)

The Board Composition for a CAB is identical to an HIH.  In the event that a Cadet is found at an HIH, the CAB consists of the same board members from the HIH

The nine board members of the CAB provide recommendations to the Superintendent for adjudication.

Cadets who are “FOUND” in violation of the Cadet Honor Code face these immediate consequences:  reduction in rank to Cadet PFC; loss of class privileges; loss of pass, off-post, and walking privileges; an Academic “F” (if applicable); and enrollment in the Special Leader Development Program for Honor (SLDP-H). 

When the Cadet appears before the Commandant, the Commandant makes the administrative decisions on a military development grade of “F”; removal from duty position; and reassignment to a different company. 

When the Cadet appears before the Superintendent for the final adjudication, the Superintendent decides on separation, enrollment in the Academy Mentorship Program, delayed graduation (6 months or a year), and also decided if the Cadet will be suspended from representing the Academy. 

The Cadet Honor System requires strict compliance with established procedures to protect due process for the accused Cadets.  In normal conditions, Cadets implement a process that takes approximately 90 working days from the inception of the case to Superintendent’s final adjudication.  This estimate varies based on many factors such as scheduling, summer training, holidays, case volume, and Cadet Honor Committee experience. 

Prior to 1976, separation was the standard punishment for any violation of the Cadet Honor Code. This attrition model assumes a Cadet’s character upon arrival to USMA is fully established.  Therefore, any violation of the Cadet Honor Code allegedly reveals an irreparable character flaw.  After the 1976 Cheating Scandal, the Secretary of the Army granted the Superintendent discretion to impose punishments other than separation, which led to 98 Cadets who were initially separated for cheating rejoining the Class of 1978.  This new developmental model is based on scholarship that shows character development is a life-long process and that growth often occurs after failure.  For the last 40 years, Superintendents have increasingly used discretion—not every Cadet who violated the Honor Code since 1980 was separated. 

The standards of the Cadet Honor Code have not changed.  The Cadet Honor Code reads, “A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do.”  Cadets who violate this code will be held accountable.

In April 2020 the Academic board and Academy leadership made the decision to maintain our rigorous academic requirements and standards during the pandemic to ensure our graduates continued to meet the high standards for graduation and commissioning into the United States Army.

In May 2020, 73 Cadets--72 plebes (freshmen) and 1 yearling (sophomore)—allegedly cheated during their Calculus final examination taken in a remote learning environment.  The cheating was identified when instructors grading the exam found irregularities in the mathematical work submitted by cadets.

West Point has a standard process for investigating potential honor code violations and has followed this process for these 73 allegations.  The investigations were conducted by the Cadet Honor Committee. 

Throughout the process, officers from The Simon Center for the Professional Military Ethic and the Staff Judge Advocate provide oversight to ensure Cadets follow established policy and afford due process for the accused.

The investigations and preliminary hearings are complete. Based on recommendations from the Cadet Investigative Team, 2 cases were dropped for lack of evidence.  An additional 4 cases were dropped because the Cadets resigned from West Point.  There are now 67 remaining cases.

The Brigade Honor Captain, in consultation with the Honor Committee, enrolled 55/59 Cadets who admitted to cheating into the Willful Admission Process (WAP).  As a result, they were found in violation of the Honor Code on 30 NOV 2020.  The found cadets were enrolled in the Special Leader Development Program – Honor (SLDP-H).  As of 09 DEC 2020, 55 members of the Staff and Faculty have volunteered to coach them through SLDP-H

The Brigade Honor Captain did not enroll the other 4 cadets into the WAP because they did not meet the criteria outlined by regulation.  Their cases will be handled through the Cadet Advisory Board (CAB), where a board of 9 Cadets will make a recommendation to the Superintendent about the consequences for violating the Cadet Honor Code.

As of 09 DEC 2020, 55 Cadets were enrolled in WAP, 4 Cadets will go through a CAB, and 8 Cadets will go through a full Honor Investigative Hearing.

These Cadets chose the easier wrong over the harder right.  Their actions are dishonorable and antithetical to the to the same Cadet Honor Code upheld by generations of USMA graduates.   We are addressing these actions in a deliberate manner through our Honor System that ensures due process and upholds the standards of the Cadet Honor Code. While this incident is extremely disappointing, the Honor System is working, and these 67 remaining cases will be held accountable for their actions. Final adjudication will occur over the next 2-3 months.  The Superintendent plans on calling each cadet to his office to issue final adjudication. 

 MA 104 Calculus: Investigation Update