Founded in 1802, West Point is the oldest military academy. The About West Point page declares that the academy’s purpose is to produce leaders of character;“The academy develops cadets to live honorably, with uncompromising integrity, as U.S Army officers in service to the nation”. They undergo rigorous physical and career development programs so that by the time the cadet’s graduate, they are ready to serve. The cadets are bound by the honor code, which states that “A Cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal nor tolerate those who do”. This code is to uphold ethical and moral behavior. In 1976, the Honor Code was violated when cadets cheated on an assignment.
All the cadets knew about the code yet half of the class seems to have taken part in the cheating. This is a classic case of group think. This group seems to have succumbed to peer pressure. Making a decision on how to discipline the culprits becomes difficult since the Academy had encouraged a culture of collaboration in some other classes. This harsh and unforgiving code implies that cadets could be expelled even after they have demonstrated remorse. The culture of tolerance by non-cheating students made the cheating behavior contagious. These Cadets seem to have developed a very tight bond of friendship. Peer pressure influences an individual to participate in actions they might otherwise never think of engaging in. It is only after the cadets were caught that they started talking. This shows lack of personal accountability for their participation
Gary Niels, of Winchester Thurston School explains the relationship between social behavior and exam cheating based on Ronald Akers’s social learning theory of crime and deviance. According to the theory, the deviant behavior illustrates that, rather than being influenced by the "threat of formal punishment from conventional society," the deviant draws his/her support from a "primary group." In other words, when they cheat,...