Published: July 8, 2021
The Virginia Military Institute Board of Visitors Executive Committee met today and voted to provide the governor, General Assembly, and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia quarterly reports detailing VMI’s progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. VMI’s first report to the Commonwealth will be provided no later than January 2022 and will continue for three years.
“It is important for VMI to continue its efforts to ensure the Institute is a place to learn, train, and work in an environment that is safe and inclusive for all,” said Tom Watjen ’76, who assumed the role of president of the Board of Visitors as of July 1, 2021. “The Commonwealth of Virginia is an important partner in this process. These quarterly reports will further demonstrate VMI’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion while maintaining our focus on our mission and purpose.”
In addition to committing to quarterly reporting, the Executive Committee adopted three diversity, equity, and inclusion principles as the Board of Visitors continues its oversight responsibilities of the Institute:
- To create and foster a more diverse VMI.
- Our efforts will be focused on ensuring VMI mirrors the outside world in which our cadets will enter and the one in which our entire VMI family interacts.
- To create and foster a safe, equitable, and inclusive environment for all on post.
- Our Honor Code and Cadet Code of Conduct will be clear as to the behaviors expected, and the consequences of failing to adhere to these codes.
- To assure that we maintain a safe, rigorous process for escalating issues which have even the potential to violate the code.
- The integrity of our reporting process and the people who support it should never be in doubt.
During the meeting, the Executive Committee also discussed matters of committee leadership and composition. The next meeting of the VMI Board of Visitors is scheduled for Sept. 9-11, 2021.
The BOV Executive Committee also reviewed the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Review: 30 Day Report.
Published: July 12, 2021
VMI Alumni Family,
In light of current events, the Institute and the VMI Alumni Agencies feel compelled to reaffirm our unified perspective on issues related to sexual harassment and assault.
We firmly support VMI’s belief that one incident of sexual assault within the Corps of Cadets is one too many.
Like VMI, we have zero tolerance for those who might engage in or tolerate acts of racism, sexism, discrimination, hatred, or prejudice.
It is our continued desire to create an environment for alumni, faculty, staff, and cadets, that is free of discrimination and harassment.
Therefore, we strongly endorse the Institute’s statement below.
Chief Executive Officer
VMI Alumni Agencies
Samuel N. Stocks ’90
President, VMI Alumni Association
Chairman, VMI Alumni Agencies Board
A STATEMENT FROM VMI
At VMI, one reported sexual assault is one too many and until that number remains at zero, we will continue to find new ways to address the challenge.
VMI aspires to eradicate issues of sexual assault and harassment through a finely tuned process involving multiple training requirements, bystander intervention, and multi-tiered access points for reporting.
VMI leadership supports complainants of sexual assault through the process, whether they choose to pursue charges through the school, the courts, or not at all. The well-being of the complainant is paramount to VMI and, as such, their wishes guide whether the school pursues charges against the respondent.
VMI has zero tolerance for those who might engage in or tolerate acts of racism, sexism, discrimination, hatred, or prejudice.
Published: July 12, 2021
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.
Major General Cedric T. Wins ‘85
U.S. Army (Retired)
Virginia Military Institute