Just the Facts: Setting the Record Straight

wide shot of new barracks with flag poles on either side, and statue of Gen. George C. Marshall in the center.

Published: February 11, 2022

The Virginia Military Institute and the VMI Alumni Agencies take issue with recent reporting in the national media, causing confusion and misunderstanding among our most loyal supporters. To set the record straight, we can assure you of the following:

The VMI Honor System

  • The VMI Honor Code remains single-sanction. There is no consideration of changing the single-sanction system.
  • The Honor Court Standard Operating Procedures are reviewed and updated regularly, consistent with VMI’s other policies and procedures.
  • The jury will be expanded by four positions, from seven to 11.
  • Guilty verdicts will now require nine of 11 votes rather than five of seven votes.
  • Education and training will continue to be a part of the mission of the Honor Court.
  • Current members of the Honor Court will educate the Corps of Cadets about these new adjustments in preparation of implementation in fall 2022.

Regarding the recent funding request to the state legislature:

  • VMI’s request is comprehensive and covers a series of Institute priorities outlined in the Unifying Action Plan and initiatives from the state-initiated equity audit.
  • Funding support includes the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Office of the Title IX coordinator; the Miller Academic Center; the Math Education Resource Center; legal counsel for the Institute; updated marketing and admissions materials; and staffing for the Office of the Commandant. These services are intended to meet the needs of all cadets.
  • 16% of the $6.1 million request is for staffing the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
  • Specific positions will support increased recruiting to more areas of the state.
  • The suggestion that CRT is now an official part of the VMI curriculum is categorically false.

The Feb. 9, 2022, editorial titled, “Opinion: The Virginia Military Institute reinforces its female cadets’ fears,” is incorrect.

VMI has a clear position when instances of sexual assault occur. Any reported incident will be investigated, and the violators will be punished. Maj. Gen. Wins worked in good faith to offer a compromise with the patron of the bill referenced in the Post’s editorial. VMI supports efforts to eliminate barriers to reporting sexual assaults. However, the superintendent believes he should maintain discretion, on a case-by-case basis, to recommend or require treatment or services if a cadet needs substance abuse help. This discretion is solely intended to offer a cadet help and should be clearly spelled out in legislation stating such action is necessary but non-punitive.

Col. Bill Wyatt, VMI Communications and Marketing director, sent the following request for correction to The Washington Post Editorial Board:

Members of the Editorial Board,

Below are inaccurate Washington Post claims followed by the actual facts:

  1. “Elsewhere, victims who report assaults, nearly always women, are shielded from punishment for drug or alcohol violations. At VMI, there is no such assurance.”

    Since at least 2014, 
    VMI’s General Order 16 has included a provision allowing the Institute to grant amnesty (GO 16, section 15) to any “cadet who reports an incident in violation of this [sexual assault] policy, directed toward that cadet or another cadet, for disciplinary infractions, occurring at the time of the incident.” This policy also applies to witnesses in an investigation. In practice, no cadet who has reported a sexual assault has ever been disciplined for illegal drug or alcohol use.
  2. “But at the U.S. Military Academy, where cadets also face rigorous training in preparation for becoming Army officers, victims of sexual assault are granted amnesty from minor infractions such as drinking—and have been since 2019. The U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis has a similar position.”

    This statement suggests that VMI’s policy is at odds with the service academies’ policy when, in fact, it is not. Both the USMA and USNA are subject to the Department of Defense’s 
    Safe-to-Report Policy. The Safe-to-Report Policy prohibits commanders from punishing sexual assault victims for “minor collateral misconduct.” Commanders, however, retain discretion to determine whether the misconduct is “minor” or “non-minor” based on an analysis of aggravating and mitigating circumstances.Both the documents linked in the online version of the editorial grant immunity for “minor collateral misconduct.” (USMA Collateral Misconduct Memo, paragraph 2b. and USNA Instruction 1752.2H, paragraph 4g.) Both policies, in accordance with the DoD’s Safe-to-Report policy, give commanders discretion in deciding whether an offense is a minor offense. This policy is very much in line with VMI’s current (and historical) policy and reflects VMI’s position on legislation proposed by Del. Helmer.

Honoring Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III ’62

We also want to ensure you are aware that the BOV has assigned a committee to begin planning events to honor Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III ’62 and Mrs. Peay for their distinguished service to the Institute. On Friday, Jan. 29, the VMI Board of Visitors made the following announcement:

As announced today by Tom Watjen ’76, VMI Board of Visitors president, the Virginia Military Institute and the VMI Alumni Agencies have formed a planning committee to finalize plans to honor and recognize the long tenure of Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III ’62 as VMI superintendent.

The committee, which will be chaired by Bill Boland ’73, former VMI Board of Visitors president, will consist of representatives from the Institute, Alumni Agencies, and the Board of Visitors, past and present. The committee will periodically report on its progress to the superintendent and presidents of the VMI Board of Visitors and VMI Alumni Agencies Board of Directors.

Members of the committee are as follows:
Bill Boland ’73, former VMI Board of Visitors president
Lara Chambers ’03, VMI Board of Visitors vice president
Dallas Clark ’99, VMI deputy superintendent for finance, administration and support
John Jumper ’66, former VMI Board of Visitors president
Thom Brashears ’95, VMI Alumni Association chief operations officer