United States Military Academy - Wiki Article


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United States Military Academy "West Point" and "USMA" redirect here. For other uses,
see West Point (disambiguation) and USMA (disambiguation). The United States Military Academy at West
Point (also known as USMA, West Point, Army, The Academy or simply The Point) is a four-year
coeducational federal service academy located in West Point, New York. The academy sits
on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, 50 miles (80 km) north of New York
City. The entire central campus is a national landmark and home to scores of historic sites,
buildings, and monuments. The majority of the campus's neogothic buildings are constructed
from gray and black granite. The campus is a popular tourist destination complete with
a large visitor center and the oldest museum in the United States Army. Candidates for
admission must both apply directly to the academy and receive a nomination, usually
from a Senator or Representative. Students are officers-in-training and are referred
to as cadets or collectively as the United States Corps of Cadets (USCC). Tuition for
cadets is fully funded by the Army in exchange for an active duty service obligation upon
graduation. Approximately 1,300 cadets enter the Academy each July with about 1,000 cadets
graduating. The academic program grants a bachelor of science degree with a curriculum
that grades cadets' performance upon a broad academic program, military leadership performance,
and mandatory participation in competitive athletics. Cadets are required to adhere to
the Cadet Honor Code, which states that "a cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate
those who do." The academy bases a cadet's leadership experience as a development of
all three pillars of performance: academics, physical, and military. Most graduates are
commissioned as second lieutenants in the Army. Foreign cadets are commissioned into
the armies of their home countries. Since 1959, cadets have also been eligible to "cross-commission,"
or request a commission in one of the other armed services, provided they meet that service's
eligibility standards. Every year, a small number of cadets do this, usually in a one-for-one
"trade" with a similarly inclined cadet or midshipman at one of the other service academies.
Because of the academy's age and unique mission, its traditions influenced other institutions.
It was the first American college to have class rings, and its technical curriculum
was a model for later engineering schools. West Point's student body has a unique rank
structure and lexicon. All cadets reside on campus and dine together en masse on weekdays
for breakfast and lunch. The academy fields fifteen men's and nine women's National Collegiate
Athletic Association (NCAA) sports teams. Cadets compete in one sport every fall, winter,
and spring season at the intramural, club, or intercollegiate level. Its football team
was a national power in the early and mid-20th century, winning three national championships. Its
alumni and students are collectively referred to as "The Long Gray Line," and its ranks
include two Presidents of the United States, numerous famous generals, and seventy-four
Medal of Honor recipients. History The Continental Army first occupied West Point, New York,
on 27 January 1778; it became the oldest continuously operating army-post in the United
States. Between 1778 and 1780, Polish engineer and military hero Tadeusz Kościuszko oversaw
the construction of the garrison defenses. The Great Hudson River Chain and high ground
above the narrow "S" curve in the river enabled the Continental Army to prevent British Royal
Navy ships from sailing upriver and thus dividing the Colonies. As commander of the fortifications
at West Point, however, Benedict Arnold committed his infamous act of treason, attempting to
sell the fort to the British. After Arnold betrayed the patriot cause, the Army changed
the name of the fortifications at West Point, New York, to Fort Clinton. With the peace
after the American Revolutionary War left various ordnance and military stores deposited
at West Point. "Cadets" underwent training in artillery and engineering studies at the
garrison since 1794. Congress formally authorized the establishment and funding of the United
States Military Academy on 16 March 1802. The academy graduated Joseph Gardner Swift,
its first official graduate, in October 1802; he later returned as Superintendent from 1812
to 1814. In its tumultuous early years, the academy featured few standards for admission
or length of study. Cadets ranged in age from 10 years to 37 years and attended between
6 months to 6 years. The impending War of 1812 caused the United States Congress to
authorize a more formal system of education at the academy and increased the size of the
Corps of Cadets to 250. The basis for the "Long Gray Line" expression originated in
1814 with the introduction of gray uniforms during the tenure of Superintendent Alden
Partridge. In 1817, Colonel Sylvanus Thayer became the Superintendent and established
the curriculum still in use as of 2011. Thayer instilled strict disciplinary standards, set
a standard course of academic study, and emphasized honorable conduct. Known as the "Father of
the Military Academy," he is honored with a monument on campus for the profound impact
he left upon the academy's history. Founded as a school of engineering, for the first
half of the 19th century, USMA produced graduates who gained recognition for engineering the
bulk of the nation's initial railway lines, bridges, harbors and roads. The academy was
the only engineering school in the country until the founding of Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute in 1824. It was so successful in its engineering curriculum that it significantly
influenced every American engineering school founded prior to the Civil War. The Mexican–American
War brought the academy to prominence as graduates proved themselves in battle for the first
time. Future Civil War commanders Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee first distinguished
themselves in battle in Mexico. In all, 452 of 523 graduates who served in the war received
battlefield promotions or awards for bravery. The school experienced a rapid modernization
during the 1850s, often romanticized by the graduates who led both sides of the Civil
War as the "end of the Old West Point era." New barracks brought better heat and gas lighting,
while new ordnance and tactics training incorporated new rifle and musket technology and accommodated
transportation advances created by the steam engine. With the outbreak of the Civil War,
West Point graduates filled the general officer ranks of the rapidly expanding Union and Confederate
armies. Two hundred ninety-four graduates served as general officers for the Union,
and one hundred fifty-one served as general officers for the Confederacy. Of all living
graduates at the time of the war, 105 (10%) were killed, and another 151 (15%) were wounded.
Nearly every general officer of note from either army during the Civil War was a graduate
of West Point and a West Point graduate commanded the forces of one or both sides in every one
of the 60 major battles of the war. Immediately following the Civil War, the academy enjoyed
unprecedented fame as a result of the role its graduates had played. However, the post-war
years were a difficult time for the academy as it struggled to admit and reintegrate cadets
from former confederate states. The first cadets from Southern states were re-admitted
in 1868, and 1870 saw the admission of the first African-American cadet, James Webster
Smith of South Carolina. Smith endured harsh treatment and was eventually dismissed for
academic deficiency under controversial circumstances in 1874. As a result, Henry O. Flipper of
Georgia became the first African-American graduate in 1877, graduating 50th in a class
of 76. Two of the most notable graduates during this period were George Washington Goethals
from the class of 1880, and John J. Pershing from the class of 1886. Goethals gained prominence
as the chief engineer of the Panama Canal, and Pershing would become famous for his exploits
against the famed Pancho Villa in Mexico and later for leading American Forces during World
War I. Besides the integration of southern-state and African-American cadets, the post-war
academy also struggled with the issue of hazing. In its first 65 years, hazing was uncommon
or non-existent beyond small pranks played upon the incoming freshmen, but took a harsher
tone as Civil War veterans began to fill the incoming freshman classes. The upper class
cadets saw it as their duty to "teach the plebes their manners." Hazing at the academy
entered the national spotlight with the death of former cadet Oscar L. Booz on December
3, 1900. Congressional hearings, which included testimony by Douglas MacArthur, investigated
his death and the pattern of systemic hazing of freshmen. When MacArthur returned as superintendent,
he made an effort to end the practice of hazing the incoming freshmen by placing Army Sergeants
in charge of training new cadets during freshman summer. The practice of hazing continued on
some levels well into the late 20th century, but is no longer allowed in the present day.
The demand for junior officers during the Spanish American War caused the class of 1899
to graduate early, and the Philippine-American War did the same for the class of 1901. This
increased demand for officers led Congress to increase the size of the Corps of Cadets
to 481 cadets in 1900. The period between 1900 and 1915 saw a construction boom as much
of West Point's old infrastructure was rebuilt. Many of the academy's most famous graduates
graduated during the 15-year period between 1900 and 1915: Douglas MacArthur (1903), Joseph
Stilwell (1904), Henry "Hap" Arnold (1907), George S. Patton (1909), Dwight D. Eisenhower,
and Omar Bradley (both 1915). The class of 1915 is known as "the class the stars fell
on" for the exceptionally high percentage of general officers that rose from that class
(59 of 164). With war raging in Europe, Congress anticipated potential American involvement
and increased the authorized strength to 1,332 cadets in 1916. The outbreak of America's
involvement in World War I caused a sharp increase in the demand for army officers,
and the academy accelerated graduation of all four classes then in attendance to meet
this requirement, beginning with the early graduation of the First Class on 20 April
1917, the Second Class in August 1917, and both the Third and Fourth Classes just before
the Armistice of 11 November 1918, when only freshman cadets remained (those who had entered
in the summer of 1918). In all, wartime contingencies and post-war adjustments resulted in ten classes,
varying in length of study from two to four years, within a seven year period before the
regular course of study was fully resumed. Douglas MacArthur became superintendent in
1919, instituting sweeping reforms to the academic process, including introducing a
greater emphasis on history and humanities. He made major changes to the field training
regimen and the Cadet Honor Committee was formed under his watch in 1922. MacArthur
was a firm supporter of athletics at the academy, as he famously said "Upon the fields of friendly
strife are sown the seeds that, upon other fields, on other days, will bear the fruits
of victory." West Point was first officially accredited in 1925, and in 1933 began granting
bachelor of science degrees to all graduates. In 1935, the academy's authorized strength
increased to 1,960 cadets. As World War II (WWII) engulfed Europe, Congress authorized
an increase to 2,496 cadets in 1942 and began graduating classes early. The class of 1943
graduated six months early in January 1943, and the next four classes graduated after
only three years. To accommodate this accelerated schedule, summer training was formally moved
to a recently acquired piece of land southwest of main post. The site would later become
Camp Buckner. The academy had its last serious brush with abolition or major reform during
the war, when some members of Congress charged that even the accelerated curriculum allowed
young men to "hide out" at West Point and avoid combat duty. A proposal was put forth
to convert the academy to an officer's training school with a six-month schedule, but this
was not adopted. West Point played a prominent role in WWII; four out of five of the five-star
generals were alumni and nearly 500 graduates died. Immediately following the war in 1945,
Maxwell Taylor (class of 1922) became superintendent. He expanded and modernized the academic program
and abolished antiquated courses in fencing and horsemanship. Unlike previous conflicts,
the Korean War did not disrupt class graduation schedules. More than half of the army leadership
during the war was composed of academy graduates. As a result, 157 alumni perished in the conflict.
Garrison H. Davidson became superintendent in 1956 and instituted several reforms that
included refining the admissions process, changing the core curriculum to include electives,
and increasing the academic degree standards for academy instructors. The 1960s saw the
size of the Corps expand to 4,400 cadets while the barracks and academic support structure
grew proportionally. West Point was not immune to the social upheaval of American society
during the Vietnam War. The first woman joined the faculty of the all-male institution amidst
controversy in 1968. The Army granted its first honorable discharge to a West Point
graduate who claimed conscientious objector status in 1971. The academy struggled to fill
its incoming classes as its graduates led troops in Southeast Asia, where 333 graduates
died. Following the 1973 Paris Peace Accords that ended American involvement in Vietnam,
the strain and stigma of earlier social unrest dissolved and West Point enjoyed surging enrollments.
West Point admitted its first 119 female cadets in 1976, after Congress authorized
the admission of women to the federal service academies in 1975. Women currently compose
approximately 15% of entering new cadets. In 1989, Kristin Baker became the first female
First Captain (an effigy of her is now on display in the Museum), the highest ranking
senior cadet at the academy. Two other females have been appointed as First Captain: Grace
H. Chung in 2004 and Stephanie Hightower in 2006. Rebecca Marier became the academy's
first female valedictorian in 1995. The first female West Point graduate to attain flag
(general officer) rank was Rebecca S. Halstead, class of 1981. Vincent Brooks became the first
African-American First Captain in 1980. In 1985, cadets were formally authorized to declare
an academic major; all previous graduates had been awarded a general bachelor of science
degree. Five years later there was a major revision of the Fourth Class System, as the
Cadet Leader Development System (CLDS) became the guidance for the development of all four
classes. The class of 1990 was the first one that issued a standard and mandatory computer
to every member of the class at the beginning of Plebe year, the Zenith Data Systems 248.
The academy was also an early adopter of the Internet in the mid 1990s, and was recognized
in 2006 as one of the nation's "most wired" campuses. During the Gulf War, alumnus General
Schwarzkopf was the commander of Allied Forces, and the current American senior generals in
Iraq, Generals Petraeus and Odierno, and Afghanistan, retired General Stanley McChrystal and General
David Rodriguez, are also alumni. Following the September 11 attacks, applications for
admission to the academy increased dramatically, security on campus was increased, and the
curriculum was revamped to include coursework on terrorism and military drills in civilian
environments. One graduate was killed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks and eighty graduates
have died during operations related to Operation Iraqi Freedom and the ongoing Global War on
Terror (59 were killed in Iraq). In December 2009, President Barack Obama delivered a major
speech in Eisenhower Hall Theater outlining his policy for deploying 30,000 additional
troops to Afghanistan as well as setting a timetable for withdrawal. Campus The academy
is located approximately 50 miles (80 km) north of New York City on the western bank
of the Hudson River. West Point, New York, is incorporated as a federal military reservation
in Orange County and is adjacent to Highland Falls. Based on the significance both of the
Revolutionary War fort ruins and of the military academy itself, the majority of the academy
area was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960. In 1841, Charles Dickens visited
the academy and said "It could not stand on more appropriate ground, and any ground more
beautiful can hardly be." One of the most visited and scenic sites on post, Trophy Point,
overlooks the Hudson river to the north, and is home to many captured cannon from past
wars as well as the Stanford White-designed Battle Monument. Though the entire military
reservation encompasses 15,974 acres (65 km2), the academic area of the campus, known as
"central area" or "the cadet area", is entirely accessible to cadets or visitors by foot.
In 1902, the Boston architectural firm Cram, Goodhue, and Ferguson was awarded a major
construction contract that set the predominantly neogothic architectural style still seen today.
Most of the buildings of the central cadet area are in this style, as typified by the
Cadet Chapel, completed in 1910. These buildings are nearly all constructed from granite that
has a predominantly gray and black hue. The barracks that were built in the 1960s were
designed to mimic this style. Other buildings on post, notably the oldest private residences
for the faculty, are built in the Federal, Georgian, or English Tudor styles. A few buildings,
such as Cullum Hall and the Old Cadet Chapel, are built in the Neoclassical style. The academy
grounds are home to numerous monuments and statues. The central cadet parade ground,
the Plain, hosts the largest number, and includes the Washington Monument, Thayer Monument,
Eisenhower Monument, MacArthur Monument, Kosciuszko Monument, and Sedgwick Monument. Patton Monument
was first dedicated in front of the cadet library in 1950, but in 2004 it was placed
in storage to make room for the construction of Jefferson Hall. With the completion of
Jefferson Hall, Patton's statue was relocated and unveiled at a temporary location on 15
May 2009, where it will remain until the completion of the renovation of the old cadet library
and Bartlett Hall. There is also a statue commemorating brotherhood and friendship from
the École Polytechnique in the cadet central area just outside Nininger Hall. The remaining
campus area is home to 27 other monuments and memorials. The West Point Cemetery is
the final resting place of many notable graduates and faculty, including George Armstrong Custer,
Winfield Scott, William Westmoreland, Earl Blaik, Maggie Dixon, and sixteen Medal of
Honor recipients. The cemetery is also the burial place of several recent graduates who
have died during the ongoing conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of the older grave sites
have large and ornate grave markers, the largest belonging to Egbert Viele (class of 1847),
chief engineer of Brooklyn's Prospect Park. The cemetery is also home to a monument to
Revolutionary War heroine Margaret Corbin. The West Point Military Reservation contains
one of three U.S. Treasury's gold mints. Main article: West Point athletic facilities West
Point is home to historic athletic facilities like Michie Stadium and Gillis Field House
as well as modern facilities such as the Lichtenburg Tennis Center, Anderson Rugby Complex, and
the Lou Gross Gymnastics Facility. Michie Stadium recently underwent a significant upgrade
in facilities for the football team, and the academy installed a new artificial turf field
in the summer of 2008. The academy has its own golf course and ski slope, located on
the northwest edge of the main campus, just outside of the Washington Gate. See also:
National Museum of the United States Army #Other Army museums The visitor's center is
just outside the Thayer Gate in the village of Highland Falls and offers the opportunity
to arrange for a guided tour. These tours, which are the only way the general public
can access the academy grounds, leave the visitor's center several times a day. The
West Point Museum is directly adjacent to the visitor's center, in the renovated Olmsted
Hall on the grounds of the former Ladycliff College. Originally opened to the public in
1854, the West Point Museum is the oldest military museum in the country. During the
summer months, the museum operates access to the Fort Putnam historic site on main post
and access to the 282 acre Constitution Island. Administration The commanding officer at the
USMA is the Superintendent. This position is roughly equivalent to the president of
a civilian university, but due to his status as the commanding general of the academy,
the Superintendent holds more influence over the daily lives of the cadets than would a
civilian university president. Since 1812, all Superintendents have been West Point graduates,
though this has never been an official prerequisite to hold that position. In recent years, the
position of Superintendent has been held by a Lieutenant General. The current Superintendent,
Lieutenant General David H. Huntoon, took command on 19 July 2010. The academy is a
direct reporting unit, and as such, the Superintendent reports directly to the Army Chief of Staff
(CSA). There are two other general officer positions at the academy. Brigadier General
Theodore D. Martin is the Commandant of Cadets, and Brigadier General Timothy Trainor is the
Dean of the Academic Board. There are 13 academic departments at USMA, each with a colonel as
the head of department. These 13 tenured colonels comprise the core of the Academic Board. These
officers are titled "Professors USMA" or PUSMA. The academy is also overseen by the Board
of Visitors (BOV). The BOV is a panel of Senators, Congressional Representatives, and presidential
appointees who "shall inquire into the morale and discipline, curriculum, instruction, physical
equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods, and other matters relating to the academy
that the board decides to consider." Currently the BOV is chaired by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
and is composed of four Senators, five Congressmen, and six presidential appointees. The admission
process consists of two parts. Candidates must apply directly to USMA for admission,
and they must obtain a nomination. The majority of candidates receive their nomination from
their United States Representative or Senator. Some receive a nomination from the Vice-President
of the United States. The nomination process is not political, and applicants do not have
to know their congressman to be nominated. The nomination process typically consists
of writing essays, obtaining letters of recommendation, and a formal interview. Admission to West
Point is selective: 12.75% of applicants were admitted (total of 1292) to the Class of 2012.
Candidates must be between 17 and 23 years old, unmarried, and with no legal obligation
to support a child. Above average high school or previous college grades and strong performance
on standardized testing is expected. The interquartile range on the old SAT was 1100–1360 and 68%
ranked in the top fifth of their high school class. To be eligible for appointment, candidates
must also undergo a Candidate Fitness Assessment and a complete physical exam. Up to 60 students
from foreign countries are present at USMA, educated at the expense of the sponsoring
nation, with tuition assistance based on the GNP of their country. Of these foreign cadets
the Code of Federal Regulations specifically permits one Filipino cadet designated by the
President of the Philippines. Candidates may have previous college experience, but they
may not transfer, meaning that regardless of previous college credit, they enter the
academy as a fourth class cadet and undergo the entire four-year program. If a candidate
is considered academically disqualified and not selected, he or she may receive an offer
to attend to the United States Military Academy Preparatory School. Upon graduation from USMAPS,
these candidates are appointed to the academy if they receive the recommendation of the
USMAPS Commandant and meet medical admission requirements. The West Point Association of
Graduates (WPAOG) also offers scholarship support to people who are qualified but not
selected. The scholarships usually cover around $7000 to civilian universities; the students
who receive these scholarships do so under the stipulation that they will be admitted
to and attend West Point a year later. Those who do not must repay the AOG. New Mexico
Military Institute, Marion Military Institute, Valley Forge Military College and the Greystone
Preparatory School at Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas are programs that students
often attend on the AOG scholarship prior to admission to West Point. Curriculum West
Point is a medium-sized, highly residential baccalaureate college, with a full-time, four-year
undergraduate program that emphasizes instruction in the arts, sciences, and professions with
no graduate program. There are 45 academic majors and the most popular majors are in
foreign languages, management information systems, history, economics, and mechanical
engineering. West Point is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Military officers compose 75% of the faculty, while civilian professors make up the remaining
25% of faculty positions. A cadet's class rank, which determines his or her army branch
and assignment upon graduation, is calculated as a combination of academic performance (55%),
military leadership performance (30%), and physical fitness and athletic performance (15%).
The 2008 Forbes magazine report on America's Best Colleges ranks West Point No. 4 nationally
and No. 1 among public institutions. The 2008 National Liberal Arts College category in
U.S. News & World Report ranks West Point No. 14 among liberal arts colleges, and No.
1 among public institutions. In 2009, West Point was named the best college in America
by Forbes Magazine. These rankings are based largely, however, on class retention rates,
public opinion, and acceptance selectivity. The acceptance selectivity has been recently
called into question due to the Academy's reported 10-15:1 acceptance. These numbers,
however, include all inquiries for information, including some students as young as the 7th
grade, who are obviously not qualified applicants. Recent reports from within Academy admissions
offices have put the actual number closer to 2:1 acceptance ratio. The academy's teaching
style forms part of the Thayer system, which was implemented by Sylvanus Thayer during
his tour as Superintendent. This form of instruction emphasizes small classes with daily homework,
and strives to make students actively responsible for their own learning by completing homework
assignments prior to class and bringing the work to class to discuss collaboratively.
The academic program consists of a structured core of 31 courses balanced between the arts
and sciences. The Academy operates on the semester system, which it labels as "terms"
(Term 1 is the fall semester; Term 2 is the spring semester). Although cadets choose their
majors in the fall of their sophomore year, they take the same course of instruction until
the beginning of their junior year. This core course of instruction consists of mathematics,
information technology, chemistry, physics, engineering, history, physical geography,
philosophy, leadership and general psychology, English composition and literature, foreign
language, political science, international relations, economics, and constitutional law.
Some advanced cadets may "validate" out of the base-level classes and take advanced or
accelerated courses earlier as freshmen or sophomores. Regardless of major, all cadets
graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree. All cadets receive commissioning as Second
Lieutenants upon graduation, so military and leadership education is nested with academic
instruction. Military training and discipline fall under purview of the Office of the Commandant.
Entering freshmen, or fourth class cadets, are referred to as New Cadets, and enter the
academy on Reception Day or R-day, which marks the start of cadet basic training (CBT), known
colloquially as Beast Barracks, or simply Beast. Most cadets consider Beast to be their
most difficult time at the academy because of the strenuous transition from civilian
to military life. Their second summer, cadets undergo cadet field training (CFT) at nearby
Camp Buckner, where they train more advanced field craft and military skills. During a
cadet's third summer, they may serve as instructors for CBT or CFT. Rising Firstie (senior) cadets
now also spend one month training at Camp Buckner, where they train for modern tactical
situations that they will soon face as new platoon leaders. Cadets also have the opportunity
during their second, third and fourth summers to serve in active army units and military
schools around the world. Active duty officers in the rank of captain or major serve as Company
Tactical Officers (TAC Officers). The role of the TAC is to mentor, train, and teach
the cadets proper standards of good order and discipline and be a good role model. There
is one TAC for every cadet company. There is also one senior Non-Commissioned Officer
to assist each TAC, known as TAC-NCOs. The Department of Military Instruction (DMI) is
responsible for all military arts and sciences education as well as planning and executing
the cadet summer training. Within DMI there is a representative from each of the Army's
branches. These "branch reps" serve as proponents for their respective branches and liaise with
cadets as they prepare for branch selection and graduation. The Department of Physical
Education (DPE) administers the physical program, which includes both physical education classes,
physical fitness testing, and competitive athletics. The head of DPE holds the title
of Master of the Sword, dating back to the 19th century when DPE taught swordsmanship
as part of the curriculum. All cadets take a prescribed series of physical fitness courses
such as military movement (applied gymnastics), boxing (men) or self defense (women), swimming,
and beginning in 2009, advanced combatives. Cadets can also take elective physical activity
classes such as scuba, rock climbing, and aerobic fitness. As with all soldiers in the
Army, cadets also must pass the Army Physical Fitness Test twice per year. Additionally,
during their junior year, cadets must pass the Indoor Obstacle Course Test (IOCT), which
DPE has administered in Hayes Gymnasium since 1944. Since Douglas MacArthur's tenure as
superintendent, every cadet has been required to participate in either an intercollegiate
sport, a club sport, or an intramural (referred to as "company athletics") sport each semester.
Moral-ethical development occurs throughout the entirety of the cadet experience by living
under the honor code and through formal leadership programs available at the academy. These include
instruction in the values of the military profession through Professional Military Ethics
Education (PME2), voluntary religious programs, interaction with staff and faculty
role models, and an extensive guest-speaker program. The foundation of the ethical code
at West Point is found in the academy's motto, "Duty, Honor, Country." West Point's Cadet
Honor Code reads simply that: "A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who
do." Cadets accused of violating the Honor Code face an investigative and hearing process.
If they are found guilty by a jury of their peers, they face severe consequences ranging
from being "turned back" (repeating an academic year) to separation from the academy. Cadets
previously enforced an unofficial sanction known as "silencing" by not speaking to cadets
accused of violating the honor code, but the practice ended in 1973 after national scrutiny.
Cadets take PME2 classes throughout the four years at the academy, starting during
Cadet Basic Training. As the cadets mature in rank and experience, they transform from
receivers of information to facilitators and teachers of PME2 topics. The Simon
Center for the Professional Military Ethic, located in Nininger Hall in central area,
is the coordinator for most PME2 training in conjunction with the cadet TAC
officers. Cadet life Cadets are not referred to as freshmen, sophomores, juniors, or seniors.
Instead they are officially called fourth class, third class, second class, and first
class cadets. Colloquially, freshmen are plebes, sophomores are yearlings or yuks, juniors
are cows, and seniors are firsties. Some of the origins of the class names are known,
some are not. Plebeians were the lower class of ancient Roman society, while yearling is
a euphemism for a year-old animal. The origin of cow is less known. There are a number of
theories for the origin of the term cow; however the most prevalent and probably accurate one
is that cadets in years past had no leave until the end of their yearling year, when
they were granted a summer-long furlough. Their return as second classmen was heralded
as "the cows coming home". Firstie is short for first class cadet. The Corps of Cadets
is officially organized into a brigade. The senior ranking cadet, the Brigade Commander,
is known traditionally as the First Captain. The brigade is organized into four regiments.
Within each regiment there are three battalions, each consisting of three companies. Companies
are lettered A through I, with a number signifying which regiment it belongs to. For example,
there are four "A" companies: A1, A2, A3, and A4. First class cadets hold the leadership
positions within the brigade from the First Captain down to platoon leaders within the
companies. Leadership responsibility decreases with the lower classes, with second class
cadets holding the rank of cadet sergeant, third class cadets holding the rank of cadet
corporal, and fourth class cadets as cadet privates. Because of the academy's congressional
nomination process, students come from all 50 states. The academy is also authorized
up to 60 international exchange cadets, who undergo the same four-year curriculum as fully
integrated members of the Corps of Cadets. Cadets attend the United States Military Academy
free of charge, with all tuition and board paid for by the Army in return for a service
commitment of five years of active duty and three years of reserve status upon graduation.
In addition to a small salary, Cadets receive meals in the dining halls, and have access
to the Internet and a phone in their barracks. The student population was 4,487 cadets for
the 2007–2008 academic year. The student body is 15.1% female. 92% of entering students
re-matriculated for a second year; the four-year graduation rate was 80% and the six-year rate
was 81%. All cadets reside on campus for their entire four years in one of the seven barracks
buildings. Most cadets are housed with one roommate, but some rooms are designed for
three cadets. Cadets are grouped into companies identified by alpha-numeric codes. All companies
live together in the same barracks area. The academy has the cadets change companies after
their freshmen or sophomore years. This process is known as scrambling, and the method of
scrambling has changed several times in recent years. All 4,000 cadets dine together at
breakfast and lunch in the Washington Hall during the weekdays. The cadet fitness center,
Arvin Gymnasium, which was rebuilt in 2004, houses extensive physical fitness facilities
and equipment for student use. Each class of cadets elects representatives to serve
as class president and fill several administrative positions. They also elect a ring and crest
committee, which designs the class's crest, the emblem that signifies their class and
it is embossed upon their class rings. Each class crest is required to contain the initials
USMA and their class motto. The class motto is proposed by the class during cadet basic
training and voted on by the class prior to the beginning of their freshman academic year.
Class mottos typically have verbiage that rhymes or is phonetically similar with their
class year. Cadets today live and work within the framework of the Cadet Leader Development
System (CLDS), which specifies the roles that a cadet plays throughout their four years
at the academy. Cadets begin their USMA careers as trainees (new cadets), then advance in
rank, starting as CDT Privates (freshmen) and culminating as CDT Officers (seniors).
Freshmen have no leadership responsibilities, but have a host of duties to perform as they
learn how to follow orders and operate in an environment of rigid rank structure, while
seniors have significant leadership responsibilities and significantly more privileges that correspond
to their rank. Cadets have a host of extracurricular activities available, most run by the office
of the Directorate of Cadet Activities (DCA). DCA sponsors or operates 113 athletic and
non-sport clubs. Many cadets join several clubs during their time at the academy and
find their time spent with their clubs a welcome respite from the rigors of cadet life. DCA
is responsible for a wide range of activities that provide improved quality of life for
cadets, including: three cadet-oriented restaurants, the Cadet Store, and the Howitzer and Bugle
Notes. The Howitzer is the annual yearbook, while Bugle Notes, also known as the "plebe
bible," is the manual of plebe knowledge. Plebe knowledge is a lengthy collection of
traditions, songs, poems, anecdotes, and facts about the academy, the army, the Old Corps,
and the rivalry with Navy that all plebes must memorize during cadet basic training.
During plebe year, plebes may be asked, and are expected to answer, any inquiry about
plebe knowledge asked by upper class cadets. Other knowledge is historical in nature, including
information as found in Bugle Notes. However, some knowledge changes daily, such as "the
days" (a running list of the number of days until important academy events), the menu
in the mess hall for the day, or the lead stories in The New York Times. Each cadet
class celebrates at least one special "class weekend" per academic year. Fourth class
cadets participate in Plebe Parent Weekend during the first weekend of spring break.
In February, third class cadets celebrate the winter season with Yearling Winter Weekend.
In late January the second class cadets celebrate 500th Night, marking the remaining 500 days
before graduation. First class cadets celebrate three different formal occasions. In late
August, first class cadets celebrate Ring Weekend, in February they mark their last
100 days with 100th Night, and in May they have a full week of events culminating in
their graduation. All of the "class weekends" involve a formal dinner and social dance,
known in old cadet slang as a "hop," held at Eisenhower Hall. Athletics Since 1899,
Army's mascot has officially been a mule because the animal symbolizes strength and perseverance.
The academy's football team was nicknamed "The Black Knights of the Hudson" due to the
black color of its uniforms. This nickname has since been officially shortened to "Black
Knights." U.S. sports media use "Army" as a synonym for the academy. "On Brave Old Army
Team" is the school's fight song. Army's chief sports rival is the Naval Academy due to its
long-standing football rivalry and the intraservice rivalry with the Navy in general. Fourth class
cadets verbally greet upper-class cadets and faculty with "Beat Navy," while the tunnel
that runs under Washington Road is named the "Beat Navy" tunnel. In the first half of the
20th century, Army and Notre Dame were football rivals, but that rivalry has since died out.
Main article: Army Black Knights football Army football began in 1890, when Navy challenged
the cadets to a game of the relatively new sport. Navy defeated Army at West Point that
year, but Army avenged the loss in Annapolis the following year. The rival academies still
clash every December in what is traditionally the last regular-season Division I college-football
game. The 2011 football season marked Navy's tenth consecutive victory yet over Army, the
longest streak in the series since inception. Army's football team reached its pinnacle
of success under coach Earl Blaik when Army won consecutive national championships in
1944 and 1945, and produced three Heisman trophy winners: Doc Blanchard (1945), Glenn
Davis (1946) and Pete Dawkins (1958). Past NFL coaches Vince Lombardi and Bill Parcells
were Army assistant coaches early in their careers. The football team plays its home
games at Michie Stadium, where the playing field is named after Earl Blaik. Cadets' attendance
is mandatory at football games and the Corps stands for the duration of the game. At all
home games, one of the four regiments marches onto the field in formation before the team
takes the field and leads the crowd in traditional Army cheers. Between the 1998 and 2004 seasons,
Army's football program was a member of Conference USA, but has since reverted to its former
independent status. West Point competes with Navy and Air Force for the Commander-in-Chief's
Trophy. Though football may receive a lot of media attention due to its annual rivalry
game, West Point has a long history of athletics in other NCAA sports. Army is a member of
the Division I Patriot League in most sports, while its men's ice hockey program competes
in Atlantic Hockey. Every year, Army faces the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC)
Paladins in the annual West Point Weekend hockey game. This series, conceived in 1923,
is the second longest-running annual international sporting event in the world (behind the Bledisloe
Cup played between Australia and New Zealand), and was featured on a $100 commemorative gold
Canadian coin in 2006. The men's lacrosse team has won eight national championships
and appeared in the NCAA tournament sixteen times. In its early years, lacrosse was used
by football players, like the "Lonesome End" Bill Carpenter, to stay in shape during the
off-season. The 2005–06 women's basketball team went 20–11 and won the Patriot League
tournament. They went to the 2006 NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Tournament as a 15th-ranked
seed, where they lost to Tennessee, 102–54. It was the first March Madness tournament
appearance for any Army basketball team. The head coach of that team, Maggie Dixon, died
soon after the season at only 28 years of age. Bob Knight, formerly the winningest men's
basketball coach in NCAA history, began his head coaching career at Army in the late 1960s
before moving on to Indiana and Texas Tech. One of Knight's players at Army was Mike Krzyzewski,
who later was head coach at Army before moving on to Duke, where he has won four national
championships. Approximately 15% of cadets are members of a club sport team. West Point
fields a total of 24 club sports teams that have been very successful in recent years,
winning national championships in Judo, Boxing, Orienteering, Pistol, Triathlon, Crew, Cycling,
and Team Handball. The majority of the student body, about 65%, competes in intramural sports,
known at the academy as "company athletics." DPE's Competitive Sports committee runs the
club and company athletics sports programs and was recently named one of the "15 Most
Influential Sports Education Teams in America" by the Institute for International Sport.
The fall season sees competition in basketball, biathlon, full-contact football, soccer, ultimate
disc, and wrestling; while the spring season sees competition in combative grappling, floor
hockey, orienteering, rugby, and swimming. In the spring, each company also fields a
team entry into the annual Sandhurst Competition, a military skills event conducted by the Department
of Military Instruction. Plebe year, cadets are expected to participate in at least one
extra-curricular activity. This can be a sports team or academic club, such as debate. Traditions
Due to West Point's age and its unique mission of producing Army officers, it has many time-honored
traditions. The list below are some of the traditions unique to or started by the academy.
The Cullum number is a reference and identification number assigned to each graduate. It was created
by brevet Major General George W. Cullum (USMA Class of 1833) who, in 1850, began the monumental
work of chronicling the biographies of every graduate. He assigned number one to the first
West Point graduate, Joseph Gardner Swift, and then numbered all successive graduates
in sequence. Before his death in 1892, General Cullum completed the first three volumes of
a work that eventually comprised 10 volumes, entitled General Cullum’s Biographical Register
of the Officers and Graduates of the United States Military Academy, and covering USMA
classes from 1802 through 1850. From 1802 through the Class of 1977, graduates were
listed by general order of Merit. Beginning with the Class of 1978, graduates were listed
alphabetically, and then by date of graduation. Seven graduates have an "A" suffix after their
Cullum Number. For various reasons these graduates were omitted from the original class roster,
and a suffix letter was added to avoid renumbering the entire class and subsequent classes. West
Point began the collegiate tradition of the class ring, beginning with the class of 1835.
The class of 1836 chose no rings, and the class of 1879 had cuff links in lieu of a
class ring. Before 1917, cadets could design much of the ring individually, but now only
the center stone can be individualized. One side of the ring bears the academy crest,
while the other side bears the class crest and the center stone ring bears the words
West Point and the class year. The academy library has a large collection of cadet rings
on display. Senior cadets receive their rings during Ring Weekend in the early fall of their
senior year. Immediately after senior cadets return to the barracks after receiving their
rings, fourth class cadets take the opportunity to surround senior cadets from their company
and ask to touch their rings. After reciting a poem known to cadets as the Ring Poop, the
senior usually grants the freshmen permission to touch the ring. Main article: Sylvanus
Thayer Award West Point is home to the Sylvanus Thayer Award. Given annually by the academy
since 1958, the award honors an outstanding citizen whose service and accomplishments
in the national interest exemplify the academy's motto, "Duty, Honor, Country." Currently,
the award guidelines state that the recipient not be a graduate of the academy. The award
has been awarded to many notable American citizens, to include George H. W. Bush, Colin
Powell, Tom Brokaw, Sandra Day O'Connor, Henry Kissinger, Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater,
Carl Vinson, Douglas MacArthur, Barbara Jordan, William J. Perry, and Bob Hope. A monument
to Union general John Sedgwick stands on the outskirts of the Plain. Sedgwick's bronze
statue has spurs with rowels that freely rotate. Legend states that if a cadet is in danger
of failing a class, they are to don their full-dress parade uniform the night before
the final exam. The cadet visits the statue and spins the rowels at the stroke of midnight.
Then the cadet runs back to the barracks as fast as he or she can. According to legend,
if Sedgwick's ghost catches him or her, he or she will fail the exam. Otherwise the cadet
will pass the exam and the course. Although being out of their rooms after midnight is
officially against regulations, violations have been known to be overlooked for the sake
of tradition. As part of the run-up to the Navy football game, the Corps of Cadets plays
the Goat-Engineer game. First played in 1907, it is a game between the "Goats" (the bottom
half of the senior (Firstie) class academically), and the "Engineers" (the top half). The game
is played with full pads and helmets using eight-man football rules. The location has
changed over the years, with recent venues being Shea Stadium, Michie Stadium, and Daly
Field. Legend states that Army will beat Navy if the goats win, and the opposite if the
engineers win. In recent years, female cadets have begun playing a flag football contest,
so there are now two Goat-Engineer games, played back to back the same night. From the
earliest days of the academy, one form of punishment for cadets who commit regulatory
infractions has been a process officially known as punishment tours. This process is
better known to the cadets as "walking the area" or "hours" because as punishment, cadets
must walk a specified number of hours in retribution. Cadets are "awarded" punishment tours based
upon the severity of the infraction. Being late to class or having an unkempt room may
result in as little as 5 hours while more severe misconduct infractions may result in
upwards of 60 to 80 hours. In its most traditional form, punishment tours are "walked off" by
wearing the dress gray uniform under arms and walking back and forth in a designated
area of the cadet barracks courtyard, known as "the area." Cadets who get into trouble
frequently and spend many weekends "walking off their hours" are known as "area birds."
Cadets who walk more than 100 total hours in their career are affectionately known as
"Century Men." An alternate form of punishment to walking hours is known as "fatigue tours,"
where assigned hours may be "worked off" by manual labor, such as cleaning the barracks.
Certain cadets whose academics are deficient may also conduct "sitting tours," where they
have to "sit hours" in a designated academic room in a controlled study environment, for
which they receive half credit towards their reduction of tours. Cadets' uniforms are inspected
before their tours begin each day. A small number of cadets may be relieved of their
tours that day if their uniforms are exceptionally presentable. Another tradition associated
with punishment tours is that any visiting head of state has the authority to grant "amnesty,"
releasing all cadets with outstanding hours from the remainder of their assigned tours.
Tours are walked on Saturday afternoons and sometimes if an important football game is
being played at home that day the cadets are relieved of their walking tour to join the
rest of the corps at the football stadium. Notable alumni An unofficial motto of the
academy's history department is "Much of the history we teach was made by people we taught."
Graduates of the academy refer to themselves as "The Long Gray Line," a phrase taken from
the academy's traditional hymn "The Corps." The academy has produced just under 65,000 alumni,
including two Presidents of the United States: Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower;
the president of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis; and three foreign
heads of state: Anastasio Somoza Debayle of Nicaragua, Fidel V. Ramos of the Philippines,
and José María Figueres of Costa Rica. Alumni currently serving in public office include
Senator Jack Reed, Governor of Nebraska David Heineman, and Congressmen Geoff Davis, Brett
Guthrie, Mike Pompeo and John Shimkus. The academy has produced many notable generals
during its 210 years. During the Civil War, graduates included Hood, Jackson, Lee, Longstreet,
Meade, Sheridan, Sherman, and Stuart. George Armstrong Custer graduated last in his class
of 1861. The Spanish-American War saw the first combat service of Lt. (later, Brigadier
General) John "Gatling Gun" Parker, the first Army officer to employ machine guns in offensive
fire support of infantry (In 1918, Parker would become the only Army infantry officer
in World War I to win the Distinguished Service Cross four times for valor in combat). During
World War I, the academy produced General of the Armies John J. Pershing. West Point
was the alma mater of many notable World War II generals, Arnold, Bradley, Clark, Eichelberger,
Gavin, Groves, MacArthur, Patton, Stillwell, Taylor, Van Fleet, and Wainwright, with many
of these graduates also serving in commanding roles in the Korean War. During the Vietnam
War, notable graduates general officers included Abrams, Moore, and Westmoreland. West Point
also produced some famous generals and statesmen of recent note including Abizaid, Clark, Haig,
McCaffrey, Schwarzkopf, and Scowcroft, Austin, and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency,
retired General David Petraeus. A total of 74 graduates have been awarded the Medal
of Honor. West Point has produced 18 NASA astronauts, including five who went to the
Moon. Other noted alumni include Jim Kimsey, founder of AOL; Bob McDonald, CEO of Procter
& Gamble; Alex Gorsky, CEO Elect of Johnson & Johnson; Keith McLoughlin, President and
CEO of Electrolux; Alden Partridge, founder of Norwich University; and Oliver O. Howard,
founder of Howard University. West Point's contributions to sport include three Heisman
Trophy winners: Glenn Davis, Doc Blanchard, and Pete Dawkins. West Point has produced
many high government officials, including Brent Scowcroft, the former National Security
Advisor under Presidents Ford and George H.W. Bush, and Eric Shinseki, the current Secretary
of Veterans Affairs. Among American universities, the academy is fourth on the list of total
winners for Rhodes Scholarships, seventh for Marshall Scholarships and fourth on the list
of Hertz Fellowships. The official alumni association of West Point is the West Point
Association of Graduates (WPAOG or AOG), headquartered at Herbert Hall.