KINGS POINT, N.Y., July 18, 2013 – This week, as part of Indoctrination, the Class of 2017 was introduced to The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) Honor System. The Honor System, which is managed by the Regimental Honor Board and enforced by the Regiment of Midshipmen, is one of the most significant traditions of USMMA. Superintendent, Rear Admiral James A. Helis, Ph.D., said, “ The Honor Code applies to every aspect of midshipman life. It makes each midshipman a better student, classmate, shipmate, officer and citizen. The code is a way of life that the entire Academy community strives to uphold. ”
The Academy’s Plebe Candidates attended classes that introduced the concept of honor and explained how the Honor Code is relevant in their lives as future midshipmen. They became familiar with the rules and procedures of the Honor System including participation in a mock trial that allowed plebe candidates to visualize a process in which an individual accused of an honor violation is judged by nine-person jury comprised of five classmates and four midshipmen officers.
Captain Reed Bonadonna, Ph.D., Director of Ethics, explained, “Although Honor often exits in a hierarchy, the practice of Honor is not simply top-down. Honor is a matter shared values among peers. The Academy Honor system reflects this by giving the midshipmen considerable responsibility and authority in the Honor process, certainly more than they exercise in any other aspect of Academy life. The injunction of the Honor Code that a midshipman not lie, cheat, or steal is meant to be an introduction to the larger ethical and professional obligations that they will assume as graduates.”
Over several days, the Regimental Honor Board Chairman, Midshipman Colleen Danus, First Class administered the Honor Oath to each plebe candidate. Each stated, “I, do solemnly swear or affirm to live by the honor code of the United States Merchant Marine Academy, which states that, ‘A midshipman will not lie, cheat, or steal.’ I understand that the Honor Code must be upheld by each member of the Regiment at all times. I vow to live by and uphold the code in all my actions, whether on Academy grounds or away. Honor is at the foundation of this Academy, deeply imbedded into its history. I faithfully pledge from this point forward, to define my life’s course by honor. So help me God.”
Danus said, “The Honor Oath represents the commitment that binds each midshipman at this academy, to live by and uphold the Honor Code. It is our duty as members of this regiment to hold each other to such a high moral standard in an effort to maintain the integrity of the institution.”
As a reminder of their commitment, Midshipman MIDN LT Samuel Dengel, 1/c Regimental Honor Board Vice Chairman for Investigations gave each plebe candidate a USMMA Honor Coin.
The Academy Honor coin was designed by Aaron N. Seesan, `03 during his term as Regimental Honor Board Chairman. On one side of the coin are the words “A Midshipman Will Not Lie, Cheat, or Steal.” On the other side are the original Academy Core Values of Integrity, Courage, Respect, and Service, and the words, “May Your Life Course be Defined by Honor.” This coin is now distributed in his honor, 1LT Aaron Seesan, USA, was mortally wounded in action on 22 May 2005 near Mosul, Iraq.