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VMI female cadets coming forward with claims of sexual assault, misogyny on campus

An article from the ‘Washington Post’ chronicles dozens of former and current experiences from female cadets

After a year of investigations and historical changes at Virginia Military Institute, there are still former and current cadets coming forward with shocking claims
After a year of investigations and historical changes at Virginia Military Institute, there are still former and current cadets coming forward with shocking claims

LEXINGTON, Va. – After a year of investigations and historical changes at Virginia Military Institute, there are still former and current cadets coming forward with shocking claims. On Monday, the Washington Post published an article about what women cadets have faced at the school.

“Derision, misogyny, sexual assault: VMI women face attacks on campus and online,” written by Washington Post reporter Ian Shapira, shares over a dozen female cadets’ current and former experiences at the school.

“One woman said she was raped in January in the barracks where women and men live side by side and she did not feel comfortable alerting VMI police or school officials because she mostly feared retribution from male cadets and as I say in the article, a reflexive defense of the perpetrator as a ‘good guy,’” said Shapira.

According to Shapira’s article, cadets at VMI must abide by a strict honor code where sexual contact on campus between cadets is forbidden. But according to the article, sexual assault is prevalent and it’s inadequately addressed.

“It’s a school that takes an immense amount of pride about what it considers its honorable student body. I think this article was trying to shine a light on what goes on behind that marketing, behind that advertisement,” said Shapira.

10 News reached out to VMI for comment on the claims in this article, but we have not heard back.

VMI did release a statement to the Washington Post, which was shared in the article, saying:

“All reports of sexual assault and harassment are handled by VMI with the utmost urgency, in accordance with federally-approved policy, and in the best interest of the cadet who makes the report.”

VMI Superintendent Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins released the following statement regarding the cadets’ allegations:

Members of the Corps of Cadets:

When I began my role as Superintendent last November, I stood before you and said that we will not tolerate acts of racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia. Today, the Washington Post published a story detailing allegations of sexual assault and harassment at VMI. The allegations contained within the story are unacceptable of any VMI cadet and no one – VMI cadet, faculty, staff, nor civilian – should be subjected to the type of behavior detailed in the article. The fact that this type of behavior is reported to have come from individuals who have worn the VMI uniform is repugnant.

Your behavior, no matter online, on post, or elsewhere, is a reflection of the Virginia Military Institute. To be a VMI alumnus is synonymous with being a leader of character whether in the military, industry, politics, or civic life. As I stated upon my arrival, we define who we are as VMI.

For those cadets who have experienced sexual assault or harassment, VMI is committed to your healing and success. VMI has a number of resources available to you. Professional counselors in the Center for Cadet Counseling are always available. Additionally, Ms. Susan LeMert, the Institute’s new Inspector General / Title IX Coordinator, is available to connect you with additional resources or discuss options for pursuing charges through the Title IX process or the courts.

Over the past seven years, VMI’s Title IX process for reporting, investigating, and adjudicating sexual assault and harassment claims was reviewed by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights as well as the Commonwealth of Virginia through the recent audit ordered by the Governor. Both the Office for Civil Rights and the Commonwealth found that VMI’s policies and procedures are compliant with federal and state laws and regulations. The Commonwealth of Virginia’s recent audit cited VMI as an “institution committed to ensuring that its cadets, faculty, and staff are free from discrimination and harassment and to responding appropriately when they are not.”

At VMI, one reported rape or sexual assault is one too many. Our job as an institution is to ensure cadets have confidence that their concerns or complaints will be addressed in a timely and compassionate manner without fear of reprisal. This is my commitment to you.

Click here to read the full Washington Post article.


About the Author:

Sydney joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2021.