LEXINGTON, Va. – Soon-to-be proposed legislation could impact how sexual assaults are reported at Virginia Military Institute.
Currently, Virginia law protects college students from getting in trouble with their school for minor offenses involving alcohol or drug use if they are reporting sexual assault. VMI is the only school with an exemption.
Del. Dan Helmer, who represents District 40 in the Virginia House of Delegates, plans to file legislation in 2022 to get rid of that exemption. He hopes it will encourage students to come forward if they witness or are victims of sexual assault.
This comes after an investigation into VMI found that 14% of female cadets surveyed reported being sexually assaulted at VMI and 63% reported being told directly by others they had been sexually assaulted.
“This is going to be the real test of whether VMI turns a new leaf,” said Helmer.
A VMI spokesperson tells 10 News that VMI has a zero-tolerance policy on drugs; however, it does protect students for minor offenses, including alcohol use.
“One sexual assault is one too many. So anything that we can do to work against sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, we’re going to do,” said Bill Wyatt, VMI’s spokesperson.