Spoiler alert: Absolutely nothing.
Here’s a link to Admiral Helis’ testimony in Congress in March 2016, only three months before the sea year stand down. He goes on and on about sexual abuse and sexual harassment at the Academy with no indication of any problem warranting a sea year shutdown. Here’s what he had to say about sea year:
The SARC and the Department of Professional Development and Career Services provide special training sessions prior to departure for Sea Year (sophomores spend four months at sea and juniors spend eight months at sea). Training focuses on where to seek help or assistance (Ship’s Master, Designated Person Ashore), situational awareness, risk reduction, and bystander intervention. This year, the Academy adopted the Green Dot bystander intervention program, which teaches students to identify volatile situations in which there could be the possibility of sexual violence and to defuse those situations through diversion or distraction. The SARB recently decided to increase our training on sexual assault and proper conduct for Midshipmen prior to their departure for sea training this summer, in response to reports that this is a higher risk period for Midshipmen. While we have implemented this wide variety of important training, education, reporting, and security mechanisms, much work remains to be done to achieve a climate of where sexual assault and sexual harassment are not tolerated and this behavior is eliminated.
Now let’s look at what he had to say about SA/SH on the Kings Point campus:
Sexual assault and sexual harassment continue to be a concern at the Academy.
and much later in the report:
Since 2012, our surveys tell us Midshipmen have a much better awareness and understanding of sexual assault and sexual harassment and appreciate the commitment of everyone from the Secretary of Transportation through MARAD, the Academy’s senior leadership, and Midshipmen Regimental officers to eliminating sexual assault and sexual harassment from the Academy. We are extremely disappointed that we are not seeing a decrease in incidents in the survey results.
The same day that Admiral Helis gave his testimony, the MARAD Administrator, gave his testimony to Congress on the state of the U.S. maritime industry (including academy training at sea). Given that three months later he essentially found the entire U.S. Merchant Marine to be a cesspool of sexual abuse and sexual harassment, I would have thought he would have mentioned a problem in the industry or during sea year training to Congress. (Spoiler alert: the silence is damning.)
So draw your own conclusions, based upon the Admiral’s sworn testimony to Congress. Where does the problem lie? At sea or on campus? And who should be held accountable? An entire industry? Or those who have been unsuccessful in their efforts to address the problem on campus?
Do you think that the sea year stand down, timed for shortly before the public release of the accreditation report that criticized SA/SH problems on campus, might have been the equivalent of MARAD shouting, “Look, a squirrel!”???