VMI could alter honor court over racial disparity concerns

Posted at 12:05 PM, Jan 29, 2021

LEXINGTON, Va. - The interim superintendent for the Virginia Military Institute said he's considering changes to its student-run justice system over concerns that it expels Black students at a disproportionately high rate.

The Washington Post reported Friday that retired Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins is reviewing the system following the newspaper's reporting and concerns voiced by a vocal group of prominent VMI graduates.

Wins was appointed VMI’s first Black leader amid a state-ordered investigation into racism at the nation's oldest state-supported military college.

He told the Post that he's considering a requirement that student juries must be unanimous before convicting a cadet. He's also considering barring the student-run court from naming an expelled cadet during “drum-out” ceremonies to the entire 1,700-member corps.

VMI’s Honor Court investigates anyone suspected of a violating a code that mandates that “a cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do.”

The Post recently found that Black cadets represented about 43 percent of expulsions, even though they made up about 6 percent of the student body. Students of color made up about 54 percent of expulsions even though they constituted about 21 percent of VMI's population.

“I think the system requires a review,” Wins said. “You want to make sure that the system, as it was intended to operate, has not kind of fallen off path, or deviated or strayed from its overall objectives and its intent.”



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