The bedrock of moral and character education at the United States Air Force Academy begins with a internalization of the cadet honor code. This code was created by cadets and is owned by cadets. They are responsible for maintaining the Code as well as for the process by which those who break it are assessed. The Code is based on a fundamental, positive principles of honesty, respect, fairness, and support.
Understanding the Code
Honor Code: We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.
Honor Oath: We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and to live honorably, (so help me God).
Spirit of the Code: Do the right thing and live honorably.
The Class of 1959 gave us the Honor Code because lying, stealing, cheating and tolerating are dishonorable, and we can’t have the trust and respect required in our community — the military — if they are allowed to exist. So if you don’t lie, steal, cheat, or tolerate, are you honorable? Not Necessarily. Being an honorable person implies much more than someone who doesn’t lie, steal, cheat or tolerate. You could lock somebody in a closet and they’d never violate the Code. Are they honorable? What about the individual who plans to lie or cheat but is afraid to get caught, so they do neither? Is this an honorable person?
Honor Education is used at the Academy to ensure a base of common knowledge essential for all cadets and future officers. Cadets participate in five “formal” honor education phases from Basic Cadet Training (BCT) through the first-class year, each corresponding to their level of development (basics: introduction; fourth-class cadets: loyal followers; third-class cadets: coach/role model; second-class cadets: mentor/worker; first-class cadets: leaders/supervisors). There are honor lessons, numerous guest speakers on honor, and other various strategies included in honor education efforts.
Honor Code System
The system is the process by which cadets are held accountable to living by the Honor Code. While the Cadet Wing Honor Code is very simple and straightforward, the honor system supporting it is evaluated by the Secretary of the Air Force, Air Force General Counsel, Congressional members, defense counsel, and members of the media. The honor system at the United States Air Force Academy is different from all other USAF administrative processes because the Honor Code and the honor system are unique to the Academy. The very first graduating class adopted the Honor Code, placing the responsibility of upholding it firmly in the hands of the cadets. It is a duty no cadet takes lightly and the Cadet Wing has proven itself worthy of this responsibility. For this reason, the first two phases of the honor system are the responsibility of cadets with permanent party oversight. The final phase of the honor system is a dual responsibility, shared by the Cadet Wing and the Air Force Academy Chain of Command.
Living Under the Code
Cadets are expected to report themselves for any Code violation. Furthermore, they must confront any other cadet they believe may have violated the code and report the incident if the situation is not resolved. This creates an atmosphere of trust and accountability unparalleled at other colleges or universities.
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