Naval Academy Giving Breathalyzers to Middies
Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy are now being limited to three drinks and are subject to random Breathalyzer tests to prove it.
In a sweeping effort to stamp out sexual assaults and other problems stemming from alcohol abuse at the U.S. Naval Academy, school officials announced yesterday that they will use Breathalyzer tests and the threat of expulsion to force midshipmen – even those 21 and over – to curtail their drinking. The enforcement tactics, which put the Naval Academy at the forefront of the “zero tolerance” movement at colleges nationwide, tolerate no underage drinking or driving under the influence of alcohol.
Since classes at the Annapolis military college resumed last month, midshipmen age 21 and older are limited to three drinks on a given night, and their blood-alcohol content is not to exceed 0.08 percent, the legal standard for drunken driving in many states, including Maryland.
Academy officials will give random breath tests to hundreds of students on weekends. Those who fail will be referred to the school’s substance abuse counseling program. Second-time offenders and those with blood-alcohol levels of 0.15 percent or higher will be disciplined through the academy’s conduct system. Punishments will include restriction to the dormitory, 5 a.m. marches and expulsion.
Neptunus Lex contrasts this treatment with the way the British Navy handles alcohol, which is to treat its sailors as adults ( I was going to type “men,” because of the additional social context at least once implied by that, but thought the better of it). I share his concerns in that regard and endorse his post for your further reading.
What concerns me perhaps more, though, is that cadets and midshipmen–and, eventually, officers in the United States Armed Forces–are expected to live according to a code of honor. Subjecting them to random Breathalyzer exams flies in the face of that and says, essentially, “I think you’re a liar.”
Unfortunately, the Naval Academy has had serious problems with its honor code and has scrapped it for a wishy-washy “Honor Concept.”
“Midshipmen are persons of integrity: They stand for that which is right.
They tell the truth and ensure that the full truth is known. They do not lie.
They embrace fairness in all actions. They ensure that work submitted as their own is their own, and that assistance received from any source is authorized and properly documented. They do not cheat.
They respect the property of others and ensure that others are able to benefit from the use of their own property. They do not steal.”
Contrast this with the West Point Honor Code: “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.”
On the one hand, the former is more far-ranging. Yet, it’s lacking the directness and firmness of the latter. In particular, they eschew the non-toleration clause because it “trusts that midshipmen will enforce the high standards we have volunteered for not out of fear, but because it is the right thing to do.”
Yet, clearly they don’t. Not when they’re treating them like common criminals. Far better to lay down a set of rules and demand that they be followed than to do that.
via OTB roving correspondent Richard Gardner