In April of 1976 it was found that there was a possibility that over half of the junior class at West Point Academy had violated the West Point honor code by cheating on a case assignment. The honor code states "A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do." This was by far the largest violation of the honor code in West Point history and presented some unusual challenges to the administration. As the year dragged on it was found that more and more students possibly had cheated on the assignment and was also becoming a public relations nightmare in the press and internally to the Army branch of the United States military.
The honor code at West Point was pointed and harsh in its dealings with violators and this case brought scrutiny, criticism as well as staunch support for the code and how violations were dealt with. To follow the honor code would be to expel all students involved and this would be a heavy hit on the academy. “At this time West Point had been having trouble recruiting soldiers because of the public attitude toward the military following the Vietnam War” The other possibility was to scrap the way the system was supposed to behave to keep the cadets in school and to reconstruct the honor code and the way it handled violations.
The diagnosis of the problem stems from the fact that honor code was a rigid book of rules that all cadets were expected to adhere too. All parties guilty of violations were given the harshest punishment of expulsion. They were 100% aware of what was involved and consequences of actions if violated. The Army and the military in general has always been a place of direct leaders and subordinates and takes in pride in the fact that it is a highly disciplined way of life. More so at the respective academies which were created to train and educate future leaders in the branches.
The academies are based on trust of your superiors as well as obedience to their commands. There is also the possibility of disappointing your colleagues and in turn losing their respect and camaraderie. This in itself is the one of the reasons some say that the honor code and system had been so successful throughout the years.
A change in the code would go against everything that West Point had always stood for and then would hold future gr...
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...e, however in support of changing the honor code system in terms of the expulsion penalty at all times as well as the tolerance portion of the penalty. I feel that there are many circumstances in which expulsion is extreme and unnecessary especially when it has to do with tolerance of an honor code violation.
There is no answer that is going to satisfy all. If the code is changed those who lived and died by it are going to be upset. No matter what happens the media is going to point to different answers. The best answer is one that displays that the army and the academy are strict yet fair and understand and employ honor at all times themselves. When issues like this arise it is a good chance to update a system that could be considered outdated and it is a good time to show that a system such as this can change with the times while still reflecting the pride and honor that is so bestowed upon it.
Luthans, F. (2005). Organizational Behavior. 10th edition. New York: The McGraw Hill Companies.
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