VMI Eschews Standards of Excellence, De-values Diploma

The following was posted on March 22 on starrs.us and is shared here by permission.

As an alumnus living in Florida, I have a dearth of information about what is happening at the Virginia Military Institute on a day-to-day basis. I see the superficial social media postings from the public relations department, the Superintendent, and the Commandant; but I crave the scuttlebutt that tells the truer story.

The recent editorial “Class of 25: The Elephant in the Room” in The Cadet was very enlightening, provided much-needed insight and served, in effect, as a detailed report on the Institute. The editorial also revealed why the administration didn’t want a student newspaper committing acts of journalism – as it validated my own suspicion that Breakout and the entire Rat Line itself have been rendered much less difficult.

From this year’s Breakout videos, the Rats seemed to merely be going through the motions when compared with videos from past Breakouts. The energy, enthusiasm, and the spirit were gone.

The Cadet editorial outlines how VMI’s core standards have been made less rigorous for the sake of maintaining the enrollment retention rate, particularly with regard to the nature and rigor of the Rat Line.

The Rat Line energizes the entire Corps of Cadets. It is an annual rite of passage that the upper classes have historically zealously preserved. The Rat Line was once extremely difficult to complete and doing so resulted in justifiable pride and a tremendous boost of self-confidence.

Since the class of 2024 did not have any semblance of a Rat Line due to COVID and their dykes did not have a robust Breakout a few weeks ago, Rats are now apparently denied those significant traditional milestones marking their first successes in the VMI experience.

Making the Rat Line easier is only the beginning. The Cadet points out that comprehensive standards at VMI are also falling precipitously. VMI once had a sterling reputation for a variety of reasons ranging from its engineering program to its Honor Code. It’s no secret what grade inflation does to the value of a diploma.

The “DEI Cow” may be dead in the eyes of some, but it has stricken the Institute with a disease that still needs to be cured. There is the notion of “Inclusive Excellence” pervading the Institute today, but meritocracy cannot coexist with mandated inclusiveness or diversity.

The Supreme Court has ruled that affirmative action is in itself discriminatory. Some states have outlawed DEI at all levels of public education.

The governor of Virginia had an opportunity to act to remove DEI in colleges and universities. VMI would be in a much better place today had he done so.

Standards are a means by which we measure the progress or the level of achievement in specific areas of endeavor, such as physical fitness, academics, and leadership. Consistent adherence to high standards confers the attainment of excellence and competency.

Standards have been dropping in professional life around the country in every industry. Recently, there has been news of standards dropping in careers that involve public safety, such as air traffic controllers, pilots, and medical school admissions.

VMI itself can through the BOV and Superintendent’s office work to ensure a model for excellence, and for real and not arbitrary standards, based on racial quotas.

Doubtless there are some cadets who know the history of VMI as a demanding fraternity who understandably want the same for themselves. These few will rise to the top no matter what, but we will lose all of those in the middle who will not be as self-motivated to rise to their potential. In the end, we are told to believe the lie – that standards are not being lowered to accommodate DEI and retain enrollment.

All aspects of cadet life have been adversely affected. This is contrary to everything VMI has ever stood for; yet, as society changes for the worse, so does VMI.

In order to inculcate virtue, an adversarial training environment is required.

Most colleges and universities today no longer encourage students to seek the acquisition of knowledge, the pursuit of the truth, or the formation of one’s character. Our society needs to continue to strive for excellence. Instead, we are committing societal suicide. The rapid decline of Western civilization is plainly at hand.

100 years ago, American high school students studied Greek and Latin. Now many graduates can barely read English and are unprepared for college. Nearly all colleges and universities across the country are experiencing decreasing enrollment numbers for myriad reasons. To further complicate matters, potential applicants to VMI realize that standards have dropped and the Institute is not what it used to be.

Considering the high tuition, many of these would-be applicants looking for a challenge will no longer be interested. VMI must therefore accept almost every applicant in order to meet its goal of 500 cadets per class.

In light of all of this, the data points that should matter most to the administration are:

  • Number of Applicants – Needs to be raised by reestablishing VMI’s high meritocratic standards
  • Acceptance Rate – Needs to be lowered to be more competitive
  • Academic Probation Rate – Needs to be near historical average
  • Number of honor court convictions per year – near historical average
  • PFT pass rate for all classes – near historical average

During its long and exemplary history, no period has been as pernicious for VMI as that which arose in 2019 with the gubernatorial election of an alumnus who traitorously let fly the Limits Gate of America’s severest school and sacrificed his alma mater as a penance to humanity’s scourge – the cultural Marxists, who have since subjected the Institute to relentless and groundless attacks.

Because the administration failed to adequately defend the time-tested and customary practices of VMI and even prostrated themselves before the tyrants of political correctness, the VMI diploma may soon be worthless.

MI not too long ago had a marketing campaign centered on the theme “Don’t Do Ordinary”. Today, it could be titled “Don’t Be Extraordinary”.

A focus on remediation and restoration is now necessary for the administration, which has obviously failed cadets and alumni.

If the Institute is to survive, it must burnish its once renowned reputation by returning to its traditional methods and reembracing its illustrious past.

–Joseph D. Elie, Wesley Chapel, Florida

STARRS stands for “Stand Together Against Racism and Radicalism in the Services.” Their website states: We are US military veterans and citizens concerned about the divisive racist and radical CRT/DEI ideology infiltrating the military and seek to stand up and do something about it in order to keep our country safe.

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