October 7, 1992

VMI's Options

An article explores VMI's options, following a court ruling upholding the school's single-sex status, but requiring it to uphold women's rights. The article explores the option of the school becoming private, admitting women, or creating a parallel military school for women.


Cavalier Daily Oct 7, 1992 - VMI's Options.pdf
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Cavalier Daily
VMI’s Options
Monday's ruling on the status of Virginia Military Institute’s all-male policy allowed both sides to back-pat for a bit: VMI lawyers called the decision a “ringing endorsement” of the institution's educational system; the American Civil Liberties Union voiced victory for women's rights. In the next few days, however, it will become obvious: Supporters of VMI's current system have little to get excited about. Something is going to change.
Unless VMI appeals the ruling to the Supreme Court, (which some VMI supporters say is likely), Virginia will have some serious decisions ahead. As it currently stands, the state can act on one of three options the appeals court judge suggested or come up with another solution. Whatever the course of action, however, the guarantees of the 14th Amendment cannot be sidestepped. Women have the right to the same opportunities as men.
The three suggestions include two painful but possible solutions and one completely irrational one. First, VMI obviously has the option of going private. Many contend that financially, VMI will never be able to sustain itself and that it will crumble. The institute is renowned for its alumni support, however; perhaps privatization is a more feasible alternative than one would expect.
A second option is to give up the fight and admit women. If women – as taxpayers — are supporting the school, they should have every right to attend it. If VMI cannot survive without state funds, it will have to toughen up and swallow its inflexibility. Other schools have undergone change to allow female students — VMI can do the same. If that means programs will have to be restructured, barracks will have to be renovated or philosophies will have to bend, then the process might as well begin now.
The third option handed down by the appeals court, however, is a less viable one. In fact, it probably would not even hold up in another court. The state, according to this ruling, could opt to form a program for women parallel and entirely equal to what is offered at VMI. Regardless of Virginia's clear inability to financially support a parallel program, this option steps back 30 years in time. “Separate but equal" has already been judged an anomaly. As one University law professor remarked, if this case had been based on race — not gender — discrimination, segregation would never have been considered. When it comes to state-funded equality, opportunities must be open to all in the same arena. Separated, groups have no chance to work together to reaéh the same levels of understanding and opportunity.
VMI has every right to retain its all-male tradition —without state funding. But when both men and women are paying taxes to support state institutions, both men and women deserve the chance to attend them — together.
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Date Added June 29, 2015
Date Modifed April 18, 2018
Collection Cavalier Daily: articles about gender discrimination

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