ANNAPOLIS – Leaders of the Brigade of Midshipmen expressed faith in the Naval Academy’s Honor Concept Thursday as the U.S. Attorney’s office in Baltimore revealed the indictments of five current and former mids for their alleged involvement in a car- theft ring.
“That’s why we have the system…. Those midshipmen who can’t fulfill the system are not going to graduate and they’re not going to serve as officers in the Naval Service,” said Midshipman Chris Ieva.
The 45-year-old Honor Concept is the equivalent of a code of ethics for midshipmen, stating that they will not lie, cheat or steal and will let the whole truth be known. It is designed to help weed out those who engage in the activities — cheating, sexual harassment and abuse, drug use and theft — that have brought shame on the academy in recent years.
Midshipman Deke Egger, the senior currently in charge of daily administration of the Honor Concept, agreed that the system is working. Student violators are punished, he said.
“If I do something that I know is wrong, I expect to be punished. The situations that we will be in demand it,” Egger said.
Their comments came as about 50 students from the Naval, Military, Air Force, Merchant Marine and Coast Guard academies gathered at the Naval Academy for a three-day seminar titled “Beyond the Honor System.”
The annual event brings together men and women who will be involved with running honor systems at the various academies during the upcoming year.
“This is an opportunity for them to intermingle, exchange ideas and learn,” Egger said.
“We want to generate more discussion on how to educate and communicate to the rest of the brigade because communication is always a problem in the military.”
Participants grappled with the real-life situations they may encounter during their early military service:
Should an ensign who always dreamed of being a pilot report a recent drunken fall resulting in a loss of consciousness when he knows it will likely mean he can’t fly?
What should an Air Force officer do when one of his superiors orders him to falsify a late flight’s take-off time to make it appear the flight was on time?
“Sometimes people get caught up in the philosophical debate over honor and ethics, but we try and focus on the practical – the common sense issues,” said Ieva, a junior who helped organize the seminar.
Ieva said he sees practical education as the most important work he does with the Honor Concept.
“The idea is that if we do enough education, we’ll never have to do the investigative end,” Ieva said. “But it never works out that way.”
Both Egger and Ieva said they think there is a public misperception that the academy attempts to hide the illegal activities of some of its students.
“Yes, the academy has problems. But our attitude is wrongly portrayed,” Egger said. “We are not attempting to cover anything up.”
Ieva said the public has a right to know what’s going on at the academy, as taxpayers foot the bill for his $250,000 education. “If the public’s upset, we’re going to work harder. Afterall, in the military, we serve our nation. If there’s a problem, let’s hammer it out,” Ieva said. “Let’s get it out in the open.” -30-