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Naval Academy Targets Alcohol Problem Among Midshipmen

May 29, 1995

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) _ At the Naval Academy, where alcohol plays a part in about 60 percent of serious conduct offenses, administrators are cracking down on drinking.

``We are going to have zero tolerance for alcohol misuse and abuse,″ said Capt. Randy Bogle, commandant of midshipmen at the academy.

Alcohol offenses have always been grounds for dismissal, but midshipmen can expect administrators to show less tolerance for drunken behavior than in the past, officials said.

Admiral Charles R. Larson took over as academy superintendent last August with a mandate to repair the institution’s torn image in the wake of the largest cheating scandal in Navy history.

Now, Larson is turning his attention to the alcohol problem. He already has appointed a committee to develop an education program for incoming midshipmen, beginning with the next class of plebes.

``We are going to train them to handle alcohol responsibly and to understand that the designated driver is not the one who has had the least amount to drink,″ Bogle said. ``It is the one who hasn’t had anything to drink.″

Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., already receive alcohol education. Officials at those academies said drinking isn’t a problem and excessive or illegal drinking can lead to dismissal.

At the Naval Academy, alcohol has been a source of discipline problems and embarrassment.

One midshipman died when he smashed his car into a guardrail on April 15. He had a blood alcohol level well above the legal limit. A Navy lieutenant who worked with the cheerleading squad was dismissed in January after he was caught drinking with underage midshipmen. Last year, six midshipmen were investigated for drinking, vandalism and theft of license plates and parking lot signs at a Renaissance festival. Three were dismissed, two resigned and one was allowed to stay but required to lecture classmates about the dangers of drunkenness.

The academy’s cheating scandal involved the buying and selling of stolen copies of a tough electrical engineering test in 1992. Of 134 midshipmen implicated, 88 were punished, including 24 who were expelled.

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