Virginia Tech Magazine
Corps of Cadets
Spring 2008
The Cadet Honor Code: Still the heart of the cadet experience
by Rock Roszak '71 and Ned Burgwyn '08

Corps of Cadets' Cadet Honor Committee Staff
Members of the Cadet Honor Committee staff (from left to right): Jessica Luehrs, Ryan Mendenhall, Devan Vaughan, Ned Burgwyn, Bryan Spear, Brad Hill, and Luke Golladay.
"A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do."

These 13 words are at the heart of the character development program that is the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. While the university Honor Code has evolved to address academic issues only, the cadet code remains as it has been for as long as anyone can remember--13 words that extend beyond academics to cover a way of life, a 24/7 code.

It takes a comprehensive framework to support a character-based lifestyle, in terms of both education and enforcement. What is unique to our corps is that this framework is managed almost entirely by cadets. The Cadet Honor Committee is comprised of a chief justice, a vice chief for education, a chief prosecutor, and a vice chief for investigations.

Cadet introduction to the Honor Code begins before arrival on campus. Each incoming freshman receives a letter about the Honor Code from the chief justice in July before the semester begins. During New Cadet Week, the chief justice gives a formal presentation to the freshman class on the history and importance of the Honor Code at Virginia Tech. The culmination of New Cadet Week is the Saturday parade, during which the freshman class makes a pledge to live by the code.

Freshmen and sophomores get further training from one of the four honor representatives in each company. Underclass cadet honor training covers the code, the rights of the accused, and the prosecution process. Undergraduates also observe a mock trial and both classes are tested on their honor system knowledge. Freshmen watch an honor-themed film--which for the past two years has been "Code Breakers," the story of a cheating scandal on the football team at West Point--and write a paper on the importance of the Honor Code.

Any reported violation of the code results in a formal investigation and, if the situation warrants, a formal Regimental Honor Board convenes. The board consists of two non-voting members (the chief justice and the faculty advisor) and six voting members. Among the voting members--who are selected by the chief justice--two are honor representatives, and the remaining four are from the general cadet population. If a preponderance of evidence indicates that a violation of the code has occurred, there will be a guilty finding. In that case, sanctions may include dismissal, suspension, military probation, or loss of scholarship.

Cadets are also subject to the university academic Honor Code and an accused cadet is treated in the civilian honor system just like any other student. Cadets found guilty are not re-tried by the cadet honor system, but cadet sanctions are applied. Cadets are usually very active in the civilian honor system; during the past year, for example, the chief justice of the Virginia Tech Honor System was Cadet Amanda Beringer.

In a world where social mores seem to be constantly under assault, the cadet Honor Code has stood the test of time and continues to provide a moral compass for our future leaders.

Col. Rock Roszak '71, USAF (Ret.), is the alumni director for the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. Cadet Ned Burgwyn (history '08) recently served as chief justice of the Cadet Honor Committee.

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