An alleged victim of sexual assault at VMI has spoken publicly about what she sees as an inadequate response by the institution.
VMI has updated its policies
on discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct, and retaliation and collected resources online.
A state task force in Virginia issued several recommendations in the spring of 2015, including to require public and private colleges to create sexual-assault-response teams, to conduct climate surveys at public colleges every two years, and to develop a state grant program to support research on gender-based-violence prevention. The state legislature also passed two laws, one requiring campus police officers to immediately notify local law-enforcement authorities after opening an investigation into felony sexual assault, and another requiring college employees to report any sexual assault disclosed to them to the campus Title IX coordinator.
This investigation was based on a federal Title IX complaint from a female cadet in July 2014 alleging that the institution had failed to respond adequately to her report of sexual assault and had retaliated against her.
The investigation was resolved after the Education Department found insufficient evidence to support the complainant’s allegations. In a letter of findings, the department chronicles VMI's response to the complainant’s report of sexual assault, concluding that it was prompt and fair. As for the allegation of retaliation, the department found that the institution had a “legitimate, non-retaliatory reason” for its action involving the cadet.
The investigation, the longest in this era of enforcement, was resolved in May 2014, with the Education Department finding a sexually hostile climate for female cadets "in the barracks and in the classroom." VMI, the department said, had violated Title IX by engaging in sex discrimination and failing to promptly and equitably resolve complaints of sexual harassment and assault. The department also faulted VMI’s policies on pregnant and parenting cadets, as well as its tenure, promotion, and sabbatical processes, which it found to discriminate against female faculty members.
VMI said it had agreed, with reservations, to sign the resolution agreement in order to "put an end to this six-year investigation." In a statement, the institute said it was "profoundly disappointed" by the findings, given the steps it had taken to respond to the Education Department’s concerns. "VMI honestly strove to address all incidents at the institute with transparency, due process, fairness, and care," the university said.
Under the settlement, VMI agreed, among other things, to put in place "consent and respect training," alcohol-abuse education, a revised Title IX grievance procedure, and a requirement that employees report all known incidents of sexual assault, as well as to conduct annual climate checks.