‘Institutional racism and sexism are present, tolerated, and left unaddressed at VMI’ says newly-released 152-page report

You can read the full report below

A special investigation says institutional racism and sexism are present, tolerated and left unaddressed at VMI.

LEXINGTON, Va. – What’s been months in the making is now complete.

On Tuesday, Barnes & Thornburg LLP released the final report from its special investigation team regarding the equity audit and investigation of racism at Virginia Military Institute.

“This investigation found that institutional racism and sexism are present, tolerated, and left unaddressed at VMI,” according to page 8 of the report.

While the report does not recommend that any of VMI’s core policies, practices and traditions, including the Honor Code and Rat Line, be abolished, it does recommend that VMI leadership examine how it can create an environment that does not disadvantage or impose disparate effects on minorities.

Specifically, the report recommended the following 8 actions:

  1. Maintain accountability
  2. Improve diversity in leadership and the corps
  3. Monitor and adjust institutions and traditions
  4. Temper associations between VMI and the Civil War and Confederacy
  5. Actively address racist, sexist, and other unacceptable language and behavior
  6. Encourage reporting and transparency
  7. Recognize and celebrate other cultures
  8. Address tensions between athletes and non-athletes

“Given what has been going on and what I’ve been thrust into, I think it gives me a lot of pause about kind of the awesome responsibility of it all,” VMI Superintendent Major General Cedric Wins said. “I think what we are poised to do is to position ourselves where VMI is inclusive to young men and women who want to come here.”

VMI said they’re in the process of hiring a diversity and equity officer and they’ll move forward under the “One Corps - One VMI” mantra and will work in recommendations where they see fit.

“The efforts that we’ve done thus far are probably just the tip of the iceberg, we certainly have gotten underway many initiatives that address what we’re trying to get at,” Wins said.

Gov. Ralph Northam, a VMI graduate, and other statewide leaders issued this joint statement following the release of the report:

Today, the Commonwealth and VMI received the highly detailed report examining the culture at the oldest state-supported military college in the United States.

The investigation found that institutional racism and sexism are present, tolerated, and too often left unaddressed.

While VMI has taken incremental steps forward since this review began, much more is needed. The question is whether VMI is willing to acknowledge this reality.

The Commonwealth will study this report carefully and then take appropriate action. VMI would be wise to do so as well. VMI is an agency of state government, and we will hold it accountable.

VMI Superintendent Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins released the following statement:

VMI Community:

This afternoon, I received a briefing from the governor’s office and Barnes & Thornburg regarding the findings and recommendations of the commonwealth’s audit into VMI’s diversity, equity, and inclusion practices. I appreciate all the time and cooperation the VMI family has invested in this process.

Since my arrival, I have said there is no place at VMI for racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, or any other type of discrimination. During my time as superintendent, the Institute will be a place where each and every member of the Corps of Cadets, faculty, staff and alumni feels a part of the VMI legacy regardless of race, gender, religion, ethnicity, nationality, or orientation.

Over the past six months, I have spent countless hours listening to cadets, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni to better understand the culture of the Institute. I have done deep dives on the policies and procedures of the many offices and departments that help to carry out the VMI mission. As with any organization, there is always room for improvement. As such, I have compiled the unifying action plan to move the Institute forward. One Corps - One VMI focuses on five outcomes: 1.) Honor, 2.) Diversity and Inclusion, 3.) VMI Brand, 4.) Competing and Winning, 5.) One VMI.

Many of you have heard me talk about the five outcomes outlined in One Corps - One VMI. These outcomes will guide the tactical decisions of the Institute in the near term. Recommendations from the Barnes & Thornburg report will be evaluated through the lens of the VMI mission and our unique method of education, and, where appropriate, be integrated into the One Corps - One VMI plan.

I recognize the past few months have been difficult for many, divisive for some, and painful for others. This report and the One Corps - One VMI unifying action plan represent an opportunity for the VMI community to come together as brother rats, fellow cadets, alumni, and friends to make an already special place even more special. We cannot do this as a community of factions. VMI has a long history of improvement. Now is no different. The Institute will move forward and will be better because of this chapter in our history. I look forward to your continued support and involvement in this process.

Major General Cedric T. Wins

You can read the full report below: