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Virginia Legislative Black Caucus urges adoption of VMI report recommendations

Virginia Military Institute
Virginia Military Institute(WVIR)
Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 8:11 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ/VLBC Release) - Members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC) are urging Virginia Military Institute to adopt changes recommended in a recent state-sanctioned report.

The VLBC says the issues that are the focus of the report “must be acknowledged and addressed strongly and promptly.”

The report, released this week, includes findings on rampant “racism, sexism, other forms of discrimination, and sexual violence at VMI,” says VLBC, whose members look forward to further discussing additional actions and remedies.

Among the report’s issues concerning the VLBC:

  • The “numerous accounts of instances of racism or racial harassment.”
  • The report further found that “[r]acial minorities, in particular African Americans, observe and experience issues with race more frequently than Caucasians.”
  • In addition, the use of racial slurs, particularly the n-word, were reported to be rampantly used by Caucasians toward African Americans and People of Color.
  • One VMI graduate reported “that he counseled other minority cadets they needed to suppress their culture to make it through VMI.” For instance, while “Caucasian cadets could blast country music,” Black cadets “would be penalized for dancing to hip hop music.”
  • The “numerous accounts of sexual assault reports that were ignored or insufficiently addressed.”
  • As the report bluntly put it: “sexual assault is a problem at VMI.”
  • Numerous female cadets reported “that they were sexually assaulted on post or that they know of other female candidates who were,” and many cadets expressed a “distrust toward VMI’s ability to effectively investigate sexual assaults.”
  • The report found many of VMI’s policies perpetuate sexual assault and create barriers to reporting.
  • In one instance, a cadet “recounted an instance in which a friend spoke to commandant staff about experiencing a sexual assault” only for the commandant staff member to tell her “if you cannot handle sexual assaults, you should not be at VMI.”

The VLBC reports having accepted an invitation to meet with VMI Superintendent General Cedric Wins to discuss the “unacceptable and dangerous norms that exist at VMI and to discuss a productive path forward.”

In a statement, the VLBC says:

“For too long racism and sexism, racist violence and sexual violence, have permeated our country’s and our Commonwealth’s institutions. For too long these issues have gone ignored or swept under the rug.”

The statement continues, “We urge VMI to accept the recommendations and work with the General Assembly on immediately correcting these injustices in the upcoming Special Session. In order to move on a better path forward, we urge VMI to recognize the three things listed in the report in addition to many other factors.”

  • “That racial and gender disparities in how cadets are treated persist at VMI;”
  • “That VMI’s culture creates and reinforces barriers to addressing those problems; and”
  • “That as a state-funded institution, VMI must be held accountable to the taxpayers and the General Assembly and prove that it is implementing its diversity, equity, and inclusion (”DEI”) proposals.”

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