Vigilance urged to prevent abuse ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY -- Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale

April 27, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

The U.S. Naval Academy was warned yesterday to remain vigilant in combating sexual harassment and instilling personal honor to prevent the attitudes that led to the Navy's Tailhook sex scandal.

Academy leaders should talk to the midshipmen about the issues raised by the final Pentagon report on the scandal that has haunted the Navy since the fall of 1991, said Richard L. Armitage, an ambassador to the states of the former Soviet Union.

Mr. Armitage, who served on a Navy committee that called for lifting combat restrictions against women, and other members of the academy's Board of Visitors discussed the future of female midshipmen during a wide-ranging meeting with top school officials yesterday.

The 13-member board, which reports directly to President Clinton, also talked about improving faculty morale by raising salaries and the need to renovate the school's aging buildings. But the board touched only briefly on the academy's recent cheating scandal, the biggest in 20 years.

The superintendent, Rear Adm. Thomas C. Lynch, announced last week that six midshipmen had been found guilty of obtaining stolen copies of an electrical engineering exam.

Mr. Armitage said he met with Admiral Lynch in February to discuss the cheating scandal and several other widely publicized incidents, including a pillow attack that left two female midshipmen bruised.

"There didn't seem to be a broader issue, or a problem with the Naval Academy as a whole," said Mr. Armitage, a 1976 academy graduate. "I came away feeling good about the leadership of the Naval Academy."

James M. Cannon, the board chairman, and other members also expressed complete confidence in the academy's handling of the cheating scandal.

"I believe the honor system works," Mr. Cannon said.

One of the six midshipmen facing expulsion, Rodney Walker, complained that he confessed and was punished, while others did not admit their role and got off. The attorney for four others also said telling the truth hurt them.

Yesterday, Cmdr. Mike John, an academy spokesman, acknowledged that two of the six midshipmen are on the varsity lacrosse and crew teams. He had previously said that none played varsity sports.

Admiral Lynch did not discuss the cheating incident during the meeting. He briefed the board on scaling back the brigade of midshipmen from 4,300 to 4,000 to meet the Navy's reduction in force.

And he called for renovating Bancroft Hall, the massive dormitory in which all midshipmen live. The Navy has requested $21.4 million in the next fiscal year to begin the first face lift in 30 years. It's expected to take nine years and cost $178 million.

Other officers spoke of the school's strides in integrating women. Although women still make up only 11 percent of the brigade, the number of female applicants has risen, and more billets are expected to be open to them next year than ever before, said Capt. Sandy Coward, the guidance director.

Captain Coward, who heads a group that studies women's issues at the academy, said polls of female students show that many want to be fighter pilots and a few hope to work on submarines.

The board also agreed yesterday to look into improving faculty salaries, which have lagged behind those of other colleges in the region.

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