Virginia Military Institute violated federal law in how it handled sexual harassment and assault cases and by requiring pregnant cadets to leave the institution, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced Friday.
Federal investigators determined that “female cadets were exposed to a sexually hostile environment” at VMI and that the institute did not promptly and equitably resolve cadet complaints about sexual harassment and sexual assault, as it is required to do under the federal anti-discrimination law known as Title IX. The institute’s policies also illegally required that pregnant and parenting cadets resign or face separation from VMI, the department said in a statement, adding that the OCR has already negotiated changes to those policies.
The civil rights office and VMI have entered into a resolution agreement to resolve the Title IX complaint. Under the agreement, VMI will be required to, among other things, conduct annual climate assessments concerning sexual harassment and assault, provide annual training on sexual assault prevention, and revise its tenure and promotion policies.
VMI said in a statement it was “profoundly disappointed with OCR’s findings.”
“We signed this agreement not because we feel the findings are representative of the VMI environment; but rather, it is in the best interest of the Institute to cooperate with OCR and put an end to this six-year investigation,” the statement said. It continued: "VMI is committed to providing a safe environment in which cadets can learn, in which faculty members can teach, and in which staff members can support the Institute’s mission.”
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