Air Force Academy: Did 40 freshmen cheat in chemistry class?

The US Air Force Academy is investigating yet another cheating scandal. Some 40 freshmen may have copied portions of a lab report for a chemistry class. It is the fourth probe of cheating involving a group of cadets at the Air Force Academy since 2004.

Brennan Linsley/AP
Graduating Air Force cadets stand at attention inside their football stadium at the commencement ceremony for the class of 2013, at the US Air Force Academy, in Colorado. A group of 40 freshmen cadets are suspected of cheating.

The Air Force Academy is investigating whether 40 freshman cadets cheated in a chemistry class.

Academy officials said Monday some cadets possibly copied portions of a lab report assignment. The school says about 500 cadets are enrolled in the class.

Initial reports said 11 cadets were under investigation, but the academy said later it was 40.

"We are sorely disappointed in this extremely small segment of our 4,000-plus cadet population," Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson said in a news release. "While we believe that the young men and women here will be forged - and forge themselves - into leaders of character for our Air Force and the Nation, we also realize that not every one of our 4,000-plus cadets will meet the high standards we expect of them and we will hold them accountable when they fail to live up to those high standards in accordance with the Academy Honor Code."

The cadets’ “Honor Code,” reads: "We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and to live honorably, so help me God."

Cadets who break the code can be expelled, but the Colorado Springs Gazette reports freshmen violators are generally treated more leniently under current rules. They can be placed on honor probation instead.

Cadets on probation are generally confined to campus and assigned extra duty, including miles of marching.

It is the fourth probe of cheating involving a group of cadets at the Air Force Academy since 2004, including a 2012 incident that left 78 cadets under suspicion.

In January, the Air Force suspended security clearances for 34 officers and retested the entire force overseeing America's nuclear-armed missiles after uncovering widespread cheating on a key proficiency exam. The incident was the largest single case of cheating in America's nuclear missile wings in memory, and is the latest embarrassment for a force that faces growing questions over discipline and morale in the post-Cold War era, reported Reuters at the time.

That cheating incident occurred last year and involved sharing answers by text message on a monthly proficiency exam for missile launch officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, Welsh said.

Malmstrom is one of three bases responsible for the United States' 420 nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles.

"There was cheating that took place with respect to this particular test. Some officers did it. Others apparently knew about it, and it appears that they did nothing, or at least not enough, to stop it or to report it," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said at a news conference.

"We are sorely disappointed in this extremely small segment of our 4,000-plus cadet population," Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson said in a news release. "While we believe that the young men and women here will be forged - and forge themselves - into leaders of character for our Air Force and the Nation, we also realize that not every one of our 4,000-plus cadets will meet the high standards we expect of them and we will hold them accountable when they fail to live up to those high standards in accordance with the Academy Honor Code."

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