A Call to Action

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by Boondock, Feb 27, 2012.

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  1. Boondock

    Boondock Member

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    As parents and alumni of KP, y'all should to know what is going on inside the academy. There are outrageous violations to the Honor Code that go unchecked. Within the past month, three girls broke into a teacher's office and stole a test. Last week, three m/n were arrested during an FBI drug raid with several still being questioned. KP is on a downward spiral that only ends in self-destruction. Please spread the word so we can restore honor to Kings Point. The following is a letter a 2/c female wrote to raise awareness of the issue.

    All those associated with the United States Merchant Marine Academy are conscious of the established code of honor, “A Midshipman will not lie, cheat, or steal.” This code of morality is at the foundation of this Academy and every Midshipman pledges to uphold this honor code upon their indoctrination into the Academy. Having taken a vow to defend this code and uphold its values, any Midshipman caught violating this code should be subject to disciplinary action and possible disenrollment. However, due to recent events, this is no longer the case.
    The past few years at the Merchant Marine Academy have been tumultuous indeed. Having gone through numerous superintendents and commandants, the Academy is lacking effective leadership and direction. More often than not during my four years here, the Academy has been under the guidance of its Academic Dean and Interim Superintendent, Dr. Shashi Kumar. Dr. Kumar is a respectable man, however the consistency and transparency that should be present in the Academy’s leadership simply does not suffice. The current administration is gun shy about pulling the trigger and taking action in matters that require strong leadership and open communication. This has led to general disillusionment and malaise amongst the Midshipman of this Academy, who arrive plebe year with high hopes only to have them crushed by the toxic bureaucracy and rampant hypocrisy present in the system.
    The inaction of the Administration and the refusal to consistently enforce the Academy’s rules and regulations, has trickled down the ranks to the Midshipmen and created a culture of moral relativism within the regiment where students no longer recognize the difference between right and wrong. The administration, by not providing a firm hand and enforcing the Academy’s regulations and honor code, has inadvertently created an epidemic within the regiment of disregard for the regulations and the honor code. The regiment is rampant with cheating, stealing, and even drug use; a direct result of the inadequacy of the administration in enforcing Academy standards.
    The defectiveness of the Academy’s leadership can be seen most distinctly in its honor system. Over the past few years, the administration has failed enormously in enforcing the Academy’s honor code and Midshipman who should have, according to our code, been disenrolled are in fact allowed to stay at the Academy. One such case consisted of three female midshipmen admittedly collaborating on a final exam. They received only restrictive punishment and come senior year each was given an officer position. Last year, a female midshipman admittedly took pictures of a final exam and sent it to her classmates. She was honor boarded, set back, and upon her return to the Academy was given an officer position in her respective company. This year, the worst offense of the inability of the administration to adhere to the Academy’s code occurred when three female Midshipmen climbed through the ceiling into a professor’s office, stole a test, and subsequently lied about having done so. The violated teacher honor boarded them where they were found guilty with separation, eight to one, by a jury of their own peers. As of Friday, February 25th, the honor case surrounding these three girls, who violated every ideal this Academy represents, has been dismissed and they will be allowed to graduate and call themselves an alumni along with the rest of us. An action that would have resulted in arrest at any other institution, is not only excused by the administration, but encouraged through its inability to adhere to and enforce the honor code of the Academy.
    The administration has clearly been inefficient in maintaining Academy standards. This is made even more obvious by the recent drug bust at the Academy. Several Midshipmen were found in possession of large quantities of drugs, and were acting as suppliers to the rest of the regiment. This is yet another example of administration’s failure to uphold standards. This type of behavior would not exist if students did not think they could get away with it, a direct result of the administration not taking action in disciplinary matters.
    Clearly, the administration is not entirely at fault. The Midshipmen are the ones who pledge to uphold the honor code, and each and every one has a moral responsibility to follow the Academy’s rules and regulations. Our placement at Kings Point is a gift that has been granted to us. We are given the opportunity and the training to become leaders both in the Armed Services and the Maritime industry, all on the generosity of the tax payer. However, the administration’s laissez faire approach to guiding and leading the regiment is responsible for the moral degradation that has bourgeoned in the regimental system. The administration has not been following the Academy’s mission of “educating and graduating officers and leaders of honor and integrity”, but instead has been promoting its Midshipman to live in a way contrary to the Academy’s ideals.
    Something needs to change at this Academy. It is nothing less than heartbreaking that a Midshipman or an Alumnus is embarrassed to call Kings Point their Alma Mater. No institution can function properly with an organization of people who do not abide by its codes, and when the administration does not abide by the same then change must come from the top.
    Nothing can be accomplished through inaction; we’ve seen distinct proof of this in the dealings of the Academy’s administration. Therefore, the time for action is now. Contact congressmen, flood the DOT with complaints, do whatever you can to send the message that the Midshipman and the Alumni will no longer stand for the depreciated state of the Academy. If we do not take action now, I fear that our Academy will not see another five years. Act now. “Acta non Verba”.
     
  2. laxkeeper20

    laxkeeper20 Member

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    If the academy did go under, what would happen to the rest of the midshipmen who were currently attending?
     
  3. Bluewater2016

    Bluewater2016 New Member

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    Not buying it

    Why do these sort of post show up after the weekend ? (GraduateZZ).And not during the weekend when they could be sent from your home p.c., Where is all the press ? Looks like someone has axe to grind !!!!
     
  4. nadofr8dog

    nadofr8dog Member

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    Give Capt Kennedy a chance to get his feet on the ground. There is, and has been a leadership void at KP. Capt Kennedy is no slouch as he just retired as Senior Marine Corps Officer and the Director, Humanities and Social Sciences Division at the U.S. Naval Academy. This is a very visible position and the Marines wouldn't put just anyone in it. He's an SA grad and knows the Honor Concept. If he doesn't already know, he's going to learn pretty quickly he just stepped into a Hornet's nest that's going to require every leadership trait he's ever learned!

    KP's problems are not unique to KP, all the SA's are facing the same problems to some extent. As for the test stealers, it's political correctness at it's worse: they are females, possibly minorities and, to top it off, one is a set back. It would take someone very strong to throw them out! Question: Does MARAD have a vote in those disenrolled for academics or honor offenses?? If they do, then you have your answer as to why they are still enrolled......

    Recommend working with Capt Kennedy and the Alumni Assoc. Write Capt Kennedy directly, if you live in the area schedule a meeting with him to voice your concerns/dissatisfaction. The Alumni Assoc should have a direct line to him. MARAD is the root of the problem, I can't imagine they will be any help until there is an administration change.
     
  5. eagleone

    eagleone Member

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    Fix it!

    I'm not so sure this is just another case of a malcontent. The letter is well written and the allegations are serious. It does certainly appear the academy lacks strong and effective leadership. Service academies have the same issues that all colleges have - note the recent issues at the USCGA and USNA with spice, but the USMMA seems to have more than its fair share of problems that are not as apparent at the other academies (i.e. leadership turmoil, a crumbling infrastructure, a lax honor code). As the father of a son that is considering Kings Point, I still think the academy is worthy of consideration, but it would be really good to fix these problems sooner rather than later.
     
  6. Kram1

    Kram1 Member

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    Appears to me that a certain 2/c Midshipmen needs to learn a thing or two about "honor" as well. Posting something like this in a public chat room is beyond the scope of my imagination...if the 2/c did not post it here, she certainly "allowed" it to be posted by placing it into the public domain. While I, in no way, condone the actions reported by this Midshipmen, the going public with such is not in the best interests of ANYONE! The Naval Academy, West Point, The Air Force Academy have all been through some challenging times when there were honor code breakdowns and apparent lack of leadership. All survived, and to suggest that Kings Point will not survive is not only harmful,. but vindictive. It appears that someone has an axe to grind and decided the best way to do that would be to give Kings Point a "black eye" in public. If this Midshipman decides to go "active" military after graduation, going over the head of superiors will cause serious repercussions...going public will make those repercussions even worse.

    To whom was this "letter written"? Was it an open letter? If it were sent privately and with private intent that is one thing, it not BIG MISTAKE. So, "Boondock" what is/was your reason for posting this "letter" in a public forum. Is it because you thought that posting behind an avatar will conceal your identity? Was this "letter" sent to you and were you given permission to post it here...or anywhere...by the Midshipmen?

    I don't know the answers to any of these questions, nor do I know the intent of the poster or writer, but I do know what harm this sort of thing can do.

    The one area where I do agree is that all Alumni, friends, Midshipmen and parents should rally behind the Academy and do what they can to support it and work to make it better. Supporting Capt. Kennedy would be a very good start, and opening up your wallets with contributions would be another. Sending a bunch of negative letters to Congressmen and government officials will not help Capt. Kennedy or Kings Point "right the ship".

    I am saddened to think that some of Kings Point's own thought going public and posting this was a good thing to do. That, I feel, shows a real lack of leadership and honor.

    I am in no way condoning any of these purported actions by our Midshipmen, and I too call for a full reinstatement of the KP Honor Code should it be proven to have fallen to the point described in this post. If Midshipmen break the Honor Code, they should be held accountable before the Honor Board And their peers and the Academy Administration should then take the appropriate action. I don't care if the Midshipmen are within days of graduation. This sort of Honor Code violation just does not sit well with me at all...never has...never will.

    But, there is a right way and a wrong way to deal with these matters...going public through a chat board is NOT one of the right ways.
     
  7. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    For what it's worth, Col. Kennedy is an outstanding officer and highly respected on the Yard. I hope he does well at USMMA.

    As for the original writer of the "letter," wherever the hell she is:

    a: Honor code violations, drugs, and conduct cases happen at all service academies, not just USMMA. There is a bottom 10% everywhere. See: Spice at USNA and USAFA.

    b: (related) It's 2nd semester 2/C year and you're still shocked that MIDN commit honor offenses and (gasp!) sometimes do the wrong thing? I mean, usually people figure this out by October 4/C year.

    c: It's 2nd semester 2/C year and you're still shocked that people fall through the cracks and sometimes the system doesn't work? You're ~20+ and surprised that life isn't fair?

    d: You're writing a letter that (I'm guessing) is 95% "Well, I heard that..." from the MIDN rumor mill and presenting it as fact? Really?

    e: The "open letter" thing is stupid, if that's what this is.

    To elaborate a little more: sure, honor code violations, drug use, and most major conduct offenses "shouldn't" happen at a service academy. But they do. It's very easy to sit here as a parent or high schooler, or even as a sanctimonious classmate, and say that this stuff shouldn't happen but it's also unrealistic.
    In my time at USNA, I've observed the honor system at multiple levels: observing boards, serving as an honor rep for an accused MIDN, as a member voting on a board, and watching an honor hearing with the Commandant (these are scary). A common theme has been that I've also heard about these honor cases from around the Brigade and seen that the rumor mill twists the facts to the point where it's ridiculous. And the body of Midshipmen as a rule never get the whole story. Obviously sometimes the upper level people get it wrong and people get retained who shouldn't, but there's almost always something else to the story that never gets out that might change people's minds.

    I call BS on completely blaming the administration too. I think some of the blame for low standards, etc. can be placed there, but at the end of the day some of it comes down to MIDN leadership failures. Each MIDN not only has an obligation not only to uphold the standard, but to enforce it.

    I'm not even really talking about turning people in for stuff: no matter what the administration says, it's MIDN leadership at all levels, from 4/C on, that truly sets the tone of an institution. CDRs and CAPTs can change the rules, but it's a lot harder for them to change a culture than it is for MIDN. Whether it's by using the conduct system, correcting conduct issues outside of the system, or just setting an example, MIDN can do a lot more than this writer gives them credit for. I've seen companies make 180 degree turns for the better or worse based solely on what the mids in that company decide they want their company to be like.
    Let me put it this way: if you've got a company where the mids, especially 4/C, suck, it's usually not because some distant CDR or CAPT isn't doing their job or setting a good example. It's because the upperclass in that company aren't.

    I'm not at King's Point and maybe things are really that bad, I can't say. But from a MIDN at another SA, take this letter with a whole shaker full of salt.
     
  8. WKSLP

    WKSLP Member

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    Let's just hope that with a USNA grad and former USMC Colonel taking charge, the "bottom 10%" and any other poor leadership decisions will be diminished!
     
  9. beyond

    beyond KπΣ15'

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    He is Captain Kennedy now, I promise. We're also not in our second semester.

    Lets all play nice. Pointed, emotional attacks are how threads here go into a downward spiral and are eventually closed.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
  10. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    That's really bizarre. At any rate, he's solid.

    Also, trimester. Whatever. The point is, she's been around long enough to hopefully figure stuff out.
     
  11. beyond

    beyond KπΣ15'

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    It's the Navy system, so he's still "O-6" but yeah... haha. Some different perspective from another SA is always good.
     
  12. WKSLP

    WKSLP Member

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    I understand he is titled as a Captain now, but coming from a Marine Corps family, I can assure you that "once a marine, always a marine!!" :)
     
  13. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    Hurricane12: I just wanted to say thank you very much. great post.

    Boondock: Posts and open letters like you did really are not the way to go IMO and many others, even when you've earned the right through being there long enough to know better, changing things as best you can from the inside as Hurricane12 indicates is usually the far, far better course. In this case I think that would have been the way to go as well.
     
  14. KP2013dramamama

    KP2013dramamama Member

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    To set the matter even straighter....

    If anyone is interested in receiving the email with the USMMA Alumni Chapter President, Gary Hicks' comments regarding what was written in the letter, some of the constitutionality issues, etc, contact your Local Parents Association President of you haven't already received it.
     
  15. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    Great post.
     
  16. kpmom2013

    kpmom2013 Member

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    Would be a good start to get someone who knows what they are doing to investigate honor code violations so they can withstand legal scrutiny. Get the attorney's advice during the investigation rather than after the fact, or get a new attorney who can assist in this way.
     
  17. JMC0759

    JMC0759 S-USMMA '12 D-USAFA '15

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    I wonder if anyone has thought to contact the federal police that are on campus to investigate the burglary of the teacher's office....

    I spoke to my 1C son last night. He knows the midshipman that wrote the original post and that mid did not know who else to turn to for help. A combination of frustration, mistrust and perceived loss of honor for KP caused this midshipman to write the post. His words not mine. Let's remember the age of the poster and not throw him/her under the bus. Apparently the "90% ers" in the regiment were hoping that the accused students that are in the "10% ers" would voluntarily separate themselves from the academy. Not gonna happen. Acta Non Verba indeed.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2012
  18. Kram1

    Kram1 Member

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    Sorry, but age is no excuse for such "stuff" as that open letter. Plenty of places to go for help when "one does not know where else to turn". WRONG is wrong and that open letter, in my opinion, ranks up there pretty darn high on the wrong scale. I could care less how old the writer is...a Midshipman is old enough to figure this stuff out and handle it in a professional and proper manner. The damage that can be done to Kings Point through such actions is immense...as are the problems created by the midshipmen dishonoring themselves and the Academy through their blatant disregard for their pledge and oath regarding the Honor Code. One could certainly be considered far "worse" of a violation than the other, and I would agree with that, but to excuse the later action as being "young" just will not cut it. I expect much more form the fine young MEA AND WOMEN who attend Kings Point.....as should they themselves. Yes, ACTA NON VERBA indeed.
     
  19. ConcernedAlumni

    ConcernedAlumni Member

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    This is a very long response

    I am going to confess up front that I do not want to identify myself openly – since it could result in having my picture posted at the gate shack to make sure I never get inside the grounds again. Nothing hurts more than the truth, especially to those who are trying desperately to cover it up.

    It would appear this midshipman may find that going public in an unacceptable manner is worse than Lying, Cheating or Stealing.

    One thing I feel I have learned is that the Honor Board, such as it is today -- “by definition” -- is no longer the Honor Board that existed eons ago when I was a midshipman. The administration put together a defense for overturning the Honor Board decision by referencing rules that were heretofore not understood. I was completely unaware Honor Board proceedings were expected to adhere to the evidentiary rules and legal procedures of a criminal trial. If this is in fact the case, then there is no reason to have a midshipman-administered Honor Board at all.

    These midshipmen who were “convicted” were not being sent to prison on inadequate evidence. These midshipmen were determined by the Regiment to have violated the Honor Code, and were told by the Regiment that they no longer belonged as members of the Regiment.

    Those who are not close enough to the current Regiment of Midshipmen have no understanding of how almost the entire Regiment feels right now. To the vast majority of them, the Honor Board itself looks meaningless in light of this latest set of events.

    Are we to hold college-level young men and women to the same standards of practice as people who spend years in law school? Can we really hold them to the standards of those who legally practice? Well, according to “College Crunch” those types of people have to accomplish the following first:


    1. Obtain a bachelor degree.
    2. Research law schools.
    3. Take the LSAT.
    4. Apply to law school.
    5. Successfully graduate from law school..
    6. Take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE).
    7. Take the Bar Exam.
    8. Gain acceptance into the Bar of the jurisdiction in which the law graduate wants to practice.
    9. Apply to the responsible authority for that state.


    The members of the Honor Board are almost always under the age of 22, and by and large have been studying to be Marine Engineers and Deck Officers for their entire University life

    The Honor Code is supposed to be a self-enforced system. The members of the Honor Board are selected by the Regiment as being trustworthy in general, and then entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining vigilance with regard to the Honor Code. This had always been distinctly different from the “Regimental System” in and of itself. The Regimental System is in place to teach discipline and good order. The Regimental System is supposed to enforce violations of the rules – right up until the violation(s) might cross the boundary into Lying, Cheating or Stealing.

    For those weighing in from other academies, you may be unaware of one vast distinction that has always existed between USMMA and all the rest – The cadet/midshipmen at the other service academies are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. When there is an issue at one of the other academies, it can be reviewed and settled within the military justice system, which to the best of my knowledge and ability, will only get overturned if a matter is egregious enough to reach the level of being reviewed by the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

    At USMMA, Kings Point, anyone who has a beef with a decision and thinks they have a reasonable chance of winning a favorable decision in a standard civil court of law can “Lawyer Up” (as the midshipmen call it). If the academy has made any procedural mistakes the individual stands a decent chance of winning his or her case.

    In this particular instance, I do have a personal opinion that I hope does not appear libelous: the only rational explanation for the academy’s reversal of the Honor Board’s decision was a case of becoming “gun shy;” and it sure seems the administration has just sold the entire Honor Code for a lot less than thirty shekels of silver. Maybe, just maybe, for once, the academy could have defended a position that said all these midshipmen agreed to this Honor Code. Did we not all agree to the rules and provisions associated when we first came on the grounds?

    Would I have advised this Midshipman who wrote the letter to go public? No, I would have advised her to be “cautious” (i.e., a coward) like the rest of us. But, do I believe her words were slanderous or libelous, as stated by my esteemed colleague, the Chairman of the Alumni Chapters Alliance? NO WAY!!!!!

    There is a long leap from unflattering commentary (about someone’s handling of very high levels of responsibility) to slandering them personally. Wrapping this young midshipman in the same cloak of Constitutional Rights as those who the Honor Board tried to remove, I would purport that she does still retain the right to free speech – even if ill-advised personally

    In addition, reading the “official” responses, I see a detailed explanation about how key people were brought in and given explanations. I know a lot of those key people. They are rational enough to keep their mouths shut under these circumstances and not tell the leadership that they believe the leadership is full of “it,” because they want to be able to graduate. These people put their hearts and souls into this proceeding. I spoke to some of them prior to the proceeding, and they felt very strongly the gravity of the decision they were going to have to make. They followed the procedures such as were given to them, of which one thing no one likely knows is that the proceeding itself was turned into a three ring circus by someone’s decision to make it an “open” hearing. So many midshipmen showed up that it had to be held in Bowditch Hall (strike that – the name was sold and it is now Ackerman Auditoriun). Where was the oversight then?

    What happened (to the best of my knowledge) is that after an unfavorable decision, the three individuals sought outside legal representation. It is not a great leap for most to believe the mere threat of outside legal proceedings made the administration decide to over-rule the Honor Board.

    Furthermore, while “key” people were informed and given explanations, this same benefit was not provided to the full regiment -- who got to find out about this reversal second and third hand. A vast majority of the regiment is glad someone among them had the guts to do what they did not.

    Now, this “Call to Action” in and of itself was rebuked on its very merits as well, stating there are bigger issues that need to be dealt with – bigger than integrity? Really? If the real problem is bigger than the integrity of the midshipmen, then I think we all need a lot better and deeper explanation about what is really happening.

    What we have been told, briefly, is that the bigger issue is to fight for the congressional funding (i.e. - very survival) of the academy, which certainly seems to be under attack by the very agency in charge of it. “We” have been assuring everyone that the academy is “here to stay;” and yet, the need to argue for our basic funding is the over-ridingly most important thing in the world? The midshipmen do feel that Honor and Integrity are being sacrificed at the altar of the almighty dollar – what evidence can we provide to assure them they are wrong?

    Within this line of thought, recognize another vast difference between the USMMA and all other academies: the other academies are essentially funded by the Budgets that are compiled and defended in vast majority by personnel in positions of high authority who are graduates of these same academies. The United States Merchant Marine Academy is funded within an industry that is remarkably schizophrenic. Our very way of life is made possible by the ocean-going trade that is carried on merchant vessels, but our own fleet has been shrinking continually for over forty years. The shrinking fleet has led to a belief that there is no need for this academy at all – until one recognizes what this means in terms of Homeland Security.

    While other academies have had the luxury of figuring out what they want to do with their facilities, Kings Point has been in an almost continual fight for survival for more than the last thirty years. On top of that, the rapid (and questionable) departure of three successive superintendents is unparalleled in either the military world or in the “real world,” as it has been referred to in the response. Such a change in a corporation would destroy stock value and there would be no confidence in the people who are making the decision as to who gets put in the position in the first place. Why did it take five months just to put together a job posting for such a critical post? Further, why does this description look suspiciously like it has been tailored for some individual who would be highly likely to carry neither a military nor a maritime background?

    In general, most positive change comes slowly from within. But, just for the sake of it, let us look at a few examples of people who chose not to work for change from within:

    Mahatma Ghandi – beaten and imprisoned
    Nelson Mandela – beaten and imprisoned
    Martin Luther King Jr. – beaten, imprisoned, and assassinated
    Jesus Christ – beaten and crucified


    Yes, chain-of-command and internal protocol were violated here, and now this ugly truth is out there for everyone to see, but shooting the messenger does not make the real issue go away.

    This young midshipman, along with the rest of them there, are well aware that “Life is not Fair” and are well-aware that “bad things happen to good people.” What has happened here is the proverbial breaking of the camel’s back with that last straw – which to them (and to me) is a BIG ONE. One very difficult aspect for all of them now is one I remember from years past – people who beat the system once seem to become ”untouchable” after that. The Regiment feels this is what they face as a future insult to the present one.

    In conclusion, if the administration had the guts to do so, it could at least admit the Honor Board can no longer function as it once did, and just disband it. Then, at least the Regiment would know where it stood.
     
  20. 2012AD

    2012AD New Member

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    ConcernedAlumni is 100% correct

    When we signed up to go to school at KP, we pledged to abide by the honor code and the decisions made by the honor board. The honor board is a non-legal entity comprised of midshipman in good academic/conduct standing and chosen according to several factors to insure no bias. When we are found guilty by a jury of our own peers, we must abide by the consequences.

    one of the girls got a lawyer and the administration pretty much dissolved in fear.

    when we found out they overturned it, they tried to give us all these BS reasons why but they were all incredibly superficial.

    While i'm not 100% sure writing the letter was the right thing to do, I feel the MIDN responsible is very brave for doing what we all felt: telling our alumni that something is very wrong and we no longer have any sort of integrity check anymore.

    Fry bigger fish? Sure, fry them all you want but to the alumni: buck up and let Dr. Kumar know that its completely wrong. We, as kings pointers, can resolve this if we all decide to try.
     
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