Looks like my $100,000 bet is officially safe.
It should have been an easy bet to win. After all, the leader of an institution that has an honor code that forbids a midshipman from lying, cheating or stealing wouldn’t lie, would he? Or, if he did, surely he would immediately tender his resignation. After all, any competent leader would recognize that at that point he had lost all moral authority to lead the institution. Right? Right?
Back in July, I offered $100,000 to the first person who could prove that Superintendent James Helis had not lied in this message posted on the Academy website. No one took the bet. Well Terry Gray reports that two weeks ago at the New York Parents Club meeting, a parent upped the bet and offered to buy Helis dinner and keep his (the parent’s) mouth shut for ever if Helis could prove that he had not lied. And Helis finally admitted that his statement was false. Here’s Terry’s report:
Apropos of your point that, “… that Academy leadership has… lied about what the Middle States Accreditation Commission said about sea year and SA/SH…”
At the meeting of the New York Parents club two weeks ago, the guest speaker was Adm. Helis. One of the parents confronted him about statements put out on the Academy website, as recently as October 26th, indicating that the Middle States Report said that SASH, “PARTICULARLY AT SEA”, is a problem. The parent offered to buy him dinner and to keep his mouth shut forever on the issue if he (Helis) could show us where it said that in the report.
At first, as evidence that the Middle States report said SASH, “PARTICULARLY AT SEA” was a problem, he referred to language therein that talked about the need to increase safety and respect for the students at sea.
The parent responded that while that particular portion of the report was accurate, the report did not say (as claimed by the academy in its various releases) that SASH, “PARTICULARLY AT SEA” was the problem. In fact, it was pointed out that the very next line of the Middle States report specifically mentioned SASH ON CAMPUS as a problem while never once referring specifically to SASH AT SEA. In fact, the report recommends that students get more training before and after going to sea. It never once talks about not letting them go to sea at all.
Helis then said that the academy statements regarding SASH, “PARTICULARLY AT SEA,” were also based upon the other studies that they had done and that was the reason for the stand down.
He was then asked outright, “So why do your own press releases state, without any reference whatsoever to those other reports, that the Middles States report refers to a SASH problem, “PARTICULARLY AT SEA,” when in fact it never does.
At that point he lost his cool and said something along the lines of, “So it’s wrong — do you want to argue over one wrong word or sentence?” (at which point several people in the audience yelled out that yes they did, indeed, want to argue over one wrong word or sentence).
So, trapped in a corner he finally told the truth. And it only took five months.
UPDATE: As of Friday, Nov. 25 (date updated), the academy website continues to perpetuate the lie: it still states: “The Middle States Commission on Higher Education… has issued a warning with recommendations regarding… combating sexual harassment and assault, particularly during Sea Year….”
There you have it: two weeks after finally admitting that Middle States did not say that there was a SASH problem, “particularly at sea…” academy leadership continues its misrepresentation, undoubtedly confident that there were only a few people present when the truth finally came out.