Claims of “structural racism” at VMI, Governor orders $1 million investigation


Image via VMI

Kyle Diederich, Staff Writer

Evidence and claims of “structural racism” against Black cadets at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) have surfaced, prompting their superintendent to resign and Governor Northam to order a $1 million dollar indepenent investigation into the matter. 


The news first broke on October 17th, when Black Cadets detailed their stories in an article published in the Washington Post. The original claims stated that African American cadets deal with relentless amounts of racism on many levels throughout the school.  Shortly after the story was published, the 17 year Superintendent of the school, General Peay, resigned. The 80 year olds resignation was accepted by the school’s Board of Visitors, who released a statement.


General Peay has served VMI as superintendent exceptionally well for more than 17 years. General Peay is a great American, patriot and hero. He has profoundly changed our school for the better in all respects,” The Board’s statement read.

The story incited VMI graduate, Governor Ralph Northam, to order an investigation into the school. The school has announced they will cooperate with an investigation but denies any claims of “structural” or “systemic racism” within the school. Interestingly, Governor Northam was in a similar position just a few years ago when a 1984 yearbook photo surfaced of him wearing blackface standing next to an individual in a KKK outfit. This photo was taken just one year after his VMI graduation, while he was attending medical school. VMI had their own scandal after yearbooks with students in blackface surfaced.


More than a dozen unnamed students were interviewed for a  groundbreaking Washington Post article. Their claims included threats of lynching, other physical threats, being referred to with racist terms, and even a professor speaking of her late father’s Ku Klux Klan membership. 


Evidence points to an app called “Jodel,” an app commonly used among students at the University and military schools. The app does not require names or numbers, so the students are able to post anonymously. From excerpts obtained by the Washington Post, a great divide can be observed. 


Many examples of what minority students are claiming can be seen. There are examples of racist jokes, racist statements and the use of racist terms and slang. There is also internal conflict among the students themselves. After General Peays resignation was made public, one student said, “To the cadets that drag VMI through the dirt…You misrepresent who we are as a school. The press takes the words of a few and magnifies it to epic proportions and call[s] it reality. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. I’m not a racist I’m a realist.”


There is a deep dark sludge boiling under the confines of VMI right now. Students are unsurprisingly divided over the claims and repercussions, many are outspokenly upset over the praised superintendents removal. Which was reportedly due to a loss of trust by school and government officials. For now, VMI has appointed Brigadier General Robert Moreschi to be interim superintendent. Moreschi is an African American 1985 graduate of VMI who has been working at the school for the past several years. 


Investigations are just beginning on the matter, it is undetermined when the investigations will conclude or what the outcome may be. It’s likely that even if little evidence is brought up of the school’s wrongdoing, VMI will see many changes to regain the trust of the public and the government.