55 Coast Guard Academy Cadets Disciplined in Cheating Scandal

A Coast Guard Academy cadet collar device
A Coast Guard Academy cadet collar device, New London, Conn., April 4, 1983. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Tom Gillespie)

Officials at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy say they have disciplined 55 second-class cadets who shared the answers to two homework assignments last fall in a nautical science course.

An academy spokesman said Friday that the cadets distributed answers related to navigation assignments in a required course for graduation, in "clear violation of academy policy."

The collaboration violated the Coast Guard Academy's Honor Concept, according to officials.

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"The U.S. Coast Guard Academy is committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity, honor and accountability," Capt. Edward Hernaez, commandant of cadets, said in a statement.

"Misconduct like this undermines trust, and those found to have violated our principles were held accountable for their actions."

Following an investigation, six cadets found to have a significant amount of involvement in the collusion received failing grades, while 48 were given lower grades. Eleven were removed from command positions they had earned this coming summer supporting training of the incoming swab class.

A total of 55 cadets, including one who was not enrolled in the course but was involved in the information exchange, were restricted to the academy grounds and will undergo a 20-week honor remediation program.

The Coast Guard Academy, unlike some schools, does not have an honor code -- an oath that students take, swearing that they will not lie, cheat or steal that also contains a "non-toleration clause" requiring those who become aware of an honor code violation to report it or also be in violation of the code.

Instead, the school has an Honor Concept, which says students' actions must be "straightforward and always above reproach," according to the cadet handbook. However, they are required to report activities that do not incriminate themselves, and the condoning of an honor violation is a punishable offense.

"The Coast Guard Academy's Honor Concept is exemplified by a person who will neither lie, cheat, steal, nor attempt to deceive. It is epitomized by an individual who places loyalty to duty above loyalty to personal friendship or to selfish desire," the handbook states.

The nautical science course the cadets were enrolled in is required for graduation, according to Public Affairs Specialist 2nd Class Taylor Bacon. The six students received failing grades for their involvement, all of whom will be first-class cadets next year, will have time to retake the course, Bacon said in an interview with Military.com on Friday.

The Coast Guard Academy, in New London, Connecticut, has an enrollment of roughly 1,000 students who are training to become officers in the U.S. Coast Guard after graduation.

The last major cheating scandal at the school occurred in 2016, when three students were expelled and 37 others disciplined for cheating on an online quiz for a ships and maritime systems class, according to The Associated Press.

The academy has been the subject of service and congressional investigations into its response to sexual assaults at the school and failure by top Coast Guard leaders to disclose the results of a six-year investigation into cases of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment at the institution that occurred between the early 1980s and 2020.

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