West Point cadets stand down to discuss sexual harassment in the academies

February 25, 2019

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point shut down classes Monday to hold discussions on sexual harassment, following recent surveys found an increase of assaults within the military academies.

Cadets were ordered to “stand down” on Monday from their normal schedules, instead attending lectures and events geared to combat the growing number of incidents weeks after the report, according to The Associated Press.

U.S. Military Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, who ordered the suspension, called the survey results “unacceptable.”

“Sexual assault and harassment have no place at West Point or in our Army,” Gen. Williams said. “It erodes readiness and the trust required to build cohesive teams and is contrary to West Point ideals and Army values.”

An official Pentagon report, which surveys Air Force, Army and Navy academies every two years, found sexual assaults rose to 48 in 2018 from 43 in 2016. Another anonymous survey reported a 50 percent increase of students saying they had received unwanted sexual contact.

Cadets and staff reportedly attended a speech from Gen. Williams before engaging in a discussion about unwarranted sexual behavior and how to prevent it.

The academy announced that it was reviewing alcohol use within the academy as well after the report found that a third of male and 15 percent of female students excessively drink, which has long been considered a contributing factor to sexual harassment.