6 mids guilty of cheating at academy Case involved 28 juniors, exam for tough course

April 23, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

Six of the 28 midshipmen accused of passing around copies of a stolen exam were found guilty in the biggest cheating scandal at the Naval Academy in 20 years, Rear Adm. Thomas C. Lynch, the superintendent, announced yesterday.

Admiral Lynch has recommended that the six juniors be expelled for cheating on the fall-semester final exam for Electrical Engineering 311, one of the toughest courses at the school. The Department of the Navy will make the final decision.

An honor board of midshipmen found sufficient evidence that as many as 11 students had obtained advance copies of the test, midshipmen and professors said. But five of the accused won reprieves, the sources said.

Cheating is one of the most serious offenses at the academy, where the honor code insists that midshipmen "do not lie, cheat or steal."

Some 700 juniors took the Dec. 14 exam for the course, which is zTC mandatory for all nonengineering majors and general engineering majors.

Three days before that, a midshipman bought the master copy from the printing center on campus, according to dozens of students and professors. Several copies were sold, some for $50 apiece, in Bancroft Hall, the midshipman dormitory.

Academy officials have refused to confirm that account, saying only that a midshipman apparently obtained the master copy before it was duplicated.

A day after the test was administered, a midshipman complained that copies of the test had been circulating in Bancroft Hall. A seven-week probe by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, in which more than 200 midshipmen were interviewed, uncovered evidence implicating 28 juniors.

Yesterday, Admiral Lynch informed the faculty of the verdicts during a meeting described as stormy by some professors.

A number of faculty members have criticized the academy's handling of the cheating scandal. "There's widespread outrage over the way the administration operates," said one humanities professor.

Many were upset when the academy suspended for a week Dr. Raymond Wasta, an electrical engineering professor, for allegedly failing to alert his supervisors about the disappearance of the exam.

In a detailed response obtained by The Sun, Dr. Wasta wrote that he alerted the department chairman when the exam did not come back immediately from the academy's copy center. He also wrote that he was concerned about the possibility of a similar problem with the midterm exam for the course.

"It does not seem right to me that the information that I freely and truthfully volunteered to the NCIS investigators for the purpose of aiding in the EE311 final exam inquiry should then be turned against me and used to charge me with careless performance of duties," he wrote.

Dr. Wasta has appealed his case to the superintendent.

Civilian professors have complained that morale has sunk to its lowest point since the cheating scandal. A faculty committee voted April 7 to look into organizing a union, according to minutes of the meeting.

"There's a very cavalier attitude toward the faculty," a professosaid. "They're very control-oriented and micro-managing everything."

Another professor wrote a 10-page letter to U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski charging that the administration "seems to exercise an arbitrary power that often ignores or tramples upon the established regulations and practices of the academic community."

Superintendent Lynch has said such statements are the views of a few malcontents, not the majority of the faculty.

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