New Report Says Racial and Gender Disparities Persist at Virginia Military Institute

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At Matriculation Day on August 23, 2020, incoming VMI freshman meet their cadre.

National law firm Barnes & Thornburg released a 152-page report this week that found Virginia Military Institute (VMI) upholds an environment of institutionalized racism and sexism.

The report says that “VMI must address elements of its culture that contribute to an ‘us versus them’ mentality, including with respect to race and gender.”

The investigation team, which regularly reported its progress to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, says the larger VMI community’s “unusual amount of vitriol, criticism, condescension, and condemnation” in reaction to the investigation is alarming and demonstrates a “problematic culture.”

“This culture includes VMI’s potent and ongoing resistance to change, denialism, secrecy, refusal of oversight, and suspicion of outsiders that creates a barrier to forward progress,” the report states.

The report includes several recommendations for VMI, such as taking accountability, improving diversity, equity, and inclusion leadership efforts, adjusting institutional traditions, and addressing tensions between athletes and non-athletes.

The institute has made recent efforts to address its exclusionary culture. In December, the VMI school board voted to remove a Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson statue after students of color made numerous complaints.

Last week, VMI appointed Jamica N. Love as its inaugural chief diversity officer. Love has nearly two decades of experience in student engagement, behavioral intervention, campus morale, suicide prevention, and accountability in higher education and will assume her position on July 9, according to a press release.

“Her experience and education will bring a wealth of good ideas and meaningful change to VMI,” said VMI Superintendent Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins in a statement. “I look forward to working closely with Dr. Love to bring new opportunities to the Corps of Cadets and the entire VMI community to connect and grow.”

Read the full report below: