West Point’s Honor Code is simple and clear. Engraved on a wall in the Thayer Walk Honor Plaza, it states, “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” In May 2020, 73 cadets were accused of cheating on a calculus exam. Of these, 6 cadets resigned during the investigation, 4 cadets were acquitted, and 2 cases against cadets were dropped. Of the 61 ‘found’ guilty of cheating, 8 were expelled, 2 were turned back 6 months, and the remaining 51 were turned back one year. 45 of the accused were athletes, and of these, 24 were football players. “A few have played in football games this season after having been accused of cheating. Some of those players [were able to] dress and play in the  Liberty Bowl on Thursday, according to Army Lt. Col. Christopher Ophardt, a West Point spokesman [at the time in 2021].”1 Amazingly, the Superintendent at the time, a former Army football player, allowed the football players to continue playing during the investigation. In another era, when West Point’s graduates actually won wars, the cadets would have been tried before the Honor committee and, if ‘found’ guilty, expelled immediately.
In December 2021, a West Point cadet quietly graduated late and is now an officer in the Army. Unofficial reports indicated that the cadet was the subject of an honor code investigation and educational vignette in which the cadet stole a watch from the PX and was caught on camera. The same Superintendent, LTG Darryl Williams, apparently allowed the cadet to graduate. When questioned by Class of 1962 graduates at a reunion in 2022, he stated he had no knowledge of the event. In another era, cadets who stole would be tried by the Honor committee and, if ‘found’ guilty, would have been promptly expelled.
Fast forward to November 2022. Just days after subjecting a contingent of several hundred West Point cadets to extreme COVID-19 risks at the West Point/Air Force Academy Football game in a Texas stadium with 33,000+ fans (many unvaccinated), West Point’s current Superintendent (LTG Steven Gilland) moved to order the remaining unvaccinated cadets to get vaccinated or face expulsion. The cadets applied for and were denied an exemption on religious grounds. The cadets now face UCMJ administrative action that can include involuntary separation under either Honorable Conditions or General Under Honorable Conditions. The latter means the cadets, if discharged from West Point and the Army could face job discrimination for the remainder of their lives, similar to soldiers who are discharged for serious infractions or crimes.
LTG Gilland assumed duties as the Superintendent in June 2022. He was not Superintendent during the above-listed scandals involving lying, cheating, and stealing. He also does not control the official Army COVID-19 vaccine policy. He does, however, have the authority and influence to help those in his command obtain waivers. He clearly has shown no interest in granting waivers to cadets having religious objections under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment of the US Constitution. He owes cadets, the Long Gray Line of graduates, and the nation an explanation for why West Point has adopted this upside-down moral directive. Clearly, he and West Point view religious freedom as a worse moral defect than lying, cheating, and/or stealing. These 6 cadets will likely soon become civilians due to their religious beliefs, while the other cadets convicted of lying, cheating, and/or stealing will be officers leading the US Army’s soldiers.
If you would like to weigh in on the issue, consider going to change.org and signing a petition condemning West Point’s misguided moral system.
Petition link: https://chng.it/JKj55wGh5r