From the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus:
The VLBC Urges Adoption of the Recommendations in the VMI Special Report
Richmond, VA— The members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC) have reviewed the recently released special report on the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and its findings on the rampant prevalence of racism, sexism, other forms of discrimination, and sexual violence at VMI. These are issues that must be acknowledged and addressed strongly and promptly. Therefore, the VLBC urges the adoption of the recommendations in the special report and we look forward to further discussing additional actions and remedies that should be taken. VMI must and will be held accountable.
Among the issues that the VLBC found alarming include:
- 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 towards 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 that many of VMI’s policies perpetuate sexual assault and create barriers to reporting.
- In one chilling 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 has 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.
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.
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.”
The VLBC will continue to work with the Governor, General Assembly colleagues, and others to create a timeline of concrete actions and a schedule of updates.
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC) is made up of 23 members in the Virginia General Assembly. VLBC is committed to improving the economic, educational, political, and social conditions of African Americans and underrepresented groups in Virginia. A vital part of VLBC’s mission is to raise the consciousness of other groups to the contributions made by African Americans to the Commonwealth and the Nation.