ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The U.S. Naval Academy announced 18 midshipmen were separated from the academy following the completion of the adjudications of honor violations that occurred during the SP211 General Physics Exam I taken by midshipmen in Dec of 2020.

“Character development is an ongoing process and midshipmen must make the choice to live honorably each day and earn the trust that comes with a commission in the Navy or Marine Corps. This incident demonstrates that we must place an increased focus on character and integrity within the entire brigade,” said Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck.

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Back in Dec. of 2020, 653 midshipmen took the final exam for General Physics I. Officials said Midshipmen were given written and verbal instructions saying they were not allowed to use outside sources during the exam.

USNA was made aware of possible improper use of outside sources including post-exam midshipman discussions on an anonymous chat platform.

The investigation team reviewed thousands of pages of information and browsing data during the exam timeframe for all of the midshipmen who participated in the exam. The team concluded that a violation of the exam rules was primarily carried out by individuals visiting websites independently and without any coordinated effort.

One hundred and five midshipmen were identified to have likely accessed unauthorized resources. Each was processed through the Naval Academy’s Honor System for suspected violations of the Honor Concept.

Each individual case was handled in accordance with established procedures. As a result, 18 midshipmen were separated from the Naval Academy and 82 were found in violation of the Honor Concept were retained in the Brigade with sanctions and entered into a five-month honor remediation program.

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Midshipmen will now be required to write out and sign an honor pledge at the commencement of each exam. USNA strongly encourages paper-based in-person exams.

In a statement, USNA said:

As a result of this investigation, the entire Brigade of Midshipmen conducted a day-long “honor conference” with intensive training and discussions on honor in April 2021. There will be a renewed focus on character and professional development throughout this academic year. The Brigade owns the Honor Concept in order for there to be the type of accountability and moral development necessary to move forward and learn from this incident.

The mission of the Naval Academy is to develop midshipmen morally, mentally, and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor, and loyalty in order to graduate leaders who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future development in mind and character to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship, and government.

Maryland Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Chairman of the U.S. Naval Academy’s Board of Visitors, also issued the following statement:

“The Academy has conducted what appears to be a thorough and fair investigation and I support its findings,” Congressman Ruppersberger said. “The Academy’s Honor Concept is clear and anyone who violates it must be held accountable. Midshipmen must earn the privilege to study at one of our nation’s most prestigious institutions and their character and conduct must be worthy at all times.”

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CBS Baltimore Staff