Virginia's Military Institute's first Black Superintendent Blasts Opposers of Diversity Reform

·3 min read
Screenshot:  The Roanoke Times / File May (Other)
Screenshot: The Roanoke Times / File May (Other)

Virginia Military Institute superintendent and retired Army Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins went to Facebook to respond to a white alumnus who questioned his push for diversity and inclusion at the college, reported The Washington Post. The newspaper claimed Carmen D. Villani Jr. had warned fellow graduates on a radio show that critical race theory had ‘entered the VMI realm’ (as if it’s some alien object entering Earth’s atmosphere).

The institute had requested $6.1 million to begin an investigation to examine its ‘racist and sexist culture,’ reported the Post. The money would also go toward expanding their Title IX offices by adding admissions counselors to cater to underrepresented students and rebrand the college’s Confederate ‘tributes.’ Wins responded to Villani’s remarks about expansion of DEI in the VMI Facebook group.

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From The Washington Post:

“Mr. Villani,” Wins wrote on a public VMI Facebook group for parents, cadets, and alumni that boasts more than 3,700 members. “You advised the listeners to urge the members of the General Assembly to ‘look very seriously’ at VMI’s funding request, a request you have no understanding about. VMI’s funding request will pale in comparison to that of the other public colleges in the state. You have no understanding ,of [Diversity, Equity and Inclusion] or what it means, or how much of the funding for DEI is represented in our request.”

Wins also said Villani’s allegation that critical race theory had crept into discourse at VMI was “categorically false.”

Though many responded hastily to the post with claims that DEI is ‘racist’ and that the expansion is a form of ‘cultural Marxism,’ Villani cleared the air confirming he and Wins had a conversations and found some common ground. “I believe the best way for that to occur is if we place our focus on our common bond, not our differences; equality/ability not equity; inclusiveness based upon “content of character,” wrote Villani via Facebook.

He missed the mark on the ‘equity’ part. That’s kind of the whole point of creating a DEI office so some students aren’t disadvantaged more than other students. But, alas. More people fought back against Wins claiming he aimlessly attacked Villani and suggested he stay out of politics before he loses his job, reported The Post. However, a few of the Black alumni Wins graduated with defended his stance.

From The Post:

One of them, Terry Thompson, who was the football team’s co-captain and is now a senior program manager with Intel in Phoenix, said opponents to Wins’s reforms “should be ashamed of themselves.” He added: “When they picked him as permanent superintendent, I couldn’t have been prouder. It was the best decision the school could have made in the current environment with diversity and inclusion being at the forefront of a lot of conversations … he has a lot more people on his side than not.”

Byron Ross, 59, another Black classmate who is a retired Army lieutenant colonel, likened Wins’s appointment to the election of Barack Obama as president. But he does not understand the resistance.

“My question is, Why are they pushing back?” asked Ross, who lives in Northern Virginia, adding that Wins was justified in his response on Facebook. “He is defending the Institute.”

Among examining the racial issues of the institute, VMI is also deciding on a bill that will allow students who report being sexually assaulted while under the influence to avoid punishment for violating school policy regarding drugs and alcohol. The Post reported students are now required to attend a mandatory sexual violence prevention class. It seems like they have a lot more to reform than the institutionalized racism.