Alumni and Friends of VMI:
Cyber Corps Numbers: Around 440
Hazing and the Honor Court: The following article recently appeared in the . It provides details as to how several first and fourth classmen issued false statements relative to a hazing investigation. While the article included the names of the cadets involved, I have deleted the names from this article.
Both Sides in VMI Abuse Case Face Charges
3 Seniors and Freshmen They Allegedly Hit Are Accused of Breaking Honor Code
By Peter Finn
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 1, 1998; Page B01
Three freshmen at the Virginia Military Institute who said they were struck with a belt for "infractions" such as playing country music or getting a low grade are facing the same punishment as the three seniors who allegedly hit them -- expulsion from the school because they initially denied that the incidents took place.
All six students have been charged with violating VMI's honor code, which prohibits lying, and will be tried next week by the student Honor Court. Any student who breaks the honor code is automatically expelled.
Lawyers for the three freshmen say that the cadets were pressured by two of the seniors -- who were also their mentors -- to cover up the episodes and that it is absurd that the victims of the strikings face the same charge as the alleged perpetrators.
The freshmen and seniors also filed a joint motion with the Honor Court alleging that student investigators dragged them out of bed for questioning on several nights and did not advise them of their right to remain silent.
"Dragging people out of their beds to interrogate them is not only draconian, it's un-American," said Bernhardt Wruble, a Washington lawyer who is one of the attorneys representing the three freshmen.
Wruble said that if the students are expelled, they will challenge the constitutionality of VMI's disciplinary system by filing a lawsuit in federal court.
VMI Superintendent Josiah Bunting III, who will review the Honor Court's decision and has the authority to overturn it, issued a statement yesterday defending the school's disciplinary practices while declining to comment on the specifics of the case.
"Our system is stern but fair, demanding but also solicitous of its obligations to cadets," Bunting said. "I have great faith in it. It is our policy not to report aspects of any investigation."
The case marks the second time this year that VMI freshmen have alleged they were struck with a belt by seniors who were serving as their mentors. A Henrico County, Va., man said that he and five other VMI freshmen were hit about twice a week over the course of a month last fall, and he is seeking criminal charges against the three seniors who struck him.
The controversies come at a time when VMI already is under close scrutiny from the U.S. Justice Department, which is monitoring the school's treatment of the first women to be admitted to the school.
VMI's freshmen, called "rats," are routinely subjected to physical and verbal abuse by upperclassmen, a months-long ritual known as the Rat Line. But rarely has that abuse become the focus of any complaint or public controversy.
In the case before the Honor Court, the three seniors allegedly operated a "whack system" in which they posted a list of freshman infractions that would draw a "whack" on the buttocks, according to documents filed with the Honor Court. The documents, normally secret, were provided to The Washington Post by the freshmen's lawyers.
Most of the alleged strikings took place last fall, according to the documents. One freshman told the Honor Court that the whacks were "not vicious, but . . . not light."
After a series of nightly interrogations in February, in which they first made false statements about the incidents, all six students eventually confessed to honor code violations, according to a transcript of a pretrial Honor Court hearing.
Wruble said the seniors' attorneys told him that they initially faced disciplinary charges for allegedly striking the freshmen but that those charges were dropped because the honor code violation carried the most severe penalty.
J. Steven Grist, of Lexington, Va., the other lawyer representing the freshmen, said that although the seniors did not directly tell the freshmen to deny having been struck, they emphasized that the cadets would be doing harm to their mentors if the word ever got out.
That put the freshmen in a very difficult position within the VMI culture, Grist and Wruble said -- having to choose between lying or breaking the bond between cadet and mentor.
In rejecting the students' motion to throw out the evidence because of the coercive, nighttime interrogations, the president of the Honor Court wrote that "conducting investigations at night was done for the sake of confidentiality and protection of witnesses. . . . It is difficult to conduct an investigation during the day because of the visibility of the situation, distractions and scheduling."
Said Wruble: "That kind of excuse is claptrap."
Speaking of the Honor Court: A couple folks have asked me about what sort of standards the HC is imposing this year. Is all lying an honor court offense? I know that lying when you are certified or making an official is an HC offense. Some folks are saying that it's now an HC offense if you lie when you are not certified/offering an official statement. For example, if you comment to a BR that you used to date a former Miss Virginia and someone knows you didn't, is that an HC offense? I've noted considerable discussion about this point on the Electronic Turnouts. This topic may come up at today's Alumni Association meeting. I'll keep my ear to the ground on this one.
Hazing Among the Minks: The following is a bried excerpt from the Times-Dispatch re: a hazing incident at W&L.
W&L suspends 10 in hazing / Fraternity closed
for year and a half
Friday, April 3, 1998
BY WES ALLISON
Times-Dispatch Staff Writer
LEXINGTON -- Washington and Lee University has suspended 10
members for hazing freshman pledges last month, including forcing them
to eat beans spiked with laxatives and zapping them with a cattle prod.
Removal of Confederate Symbols: I've received a couple e-mails from folks in the last week alleging that Confederate symbols have largely been purged from VMI. E-mails were accompanied by a bunch of forwarded e-mails. I did some checking and this is what I discovered:
1) Confederate portraits have been removed from JM Hall and placed in Preston Library along with the numerous other portraits that already reside there.
2) Class rings, and apparently this has been the case for some time, can no longer include the Confederate flag. I believe this decision was made when Gen Knapp was the Superintendent. As one might understand, the inclusion of the Confederate flag on the class rings made some of the African American cadets uncomfortable.
Other than that, I'm not sure what other "removals" have taken place. If anyone has any other info, please let me know and I'll pass it along.
Parent Information Booklet: Marie Ronayne asked that I post the following letter. If you have any ideas, please pass them along to her.
I am a member of the VMI Parent Council. We are meeting on April 11 to write a parent information booklet. The purpose of the booklet is to inform parents about VMI events (New Market, Breakout, Ring Figure, Graduation, etc.). If you have time to email me any tidbits that would be helpful to parents, please do so this week. I would really appreciate your comments.
VMI Mom '99
Job Opening: Ray Lawson '81 indicates his outfit has the following job opening. Anyone accepting this position and traveling to Australia must provide Foster's beer for all Cyber Corps members.
My company is looking for a BS Civil Engineer with 8 to 10
experience, including project management. Must be willing to travel.
Position will be based in the SF Bay area, but there will be
considerable work in Austrailia beginning in June. Dams, mining,
construction experience would be very helpful.
Any interested folks should contact me at the location below,
Green at HQ (510) 633-5000.
Ray Lawson, '81
Cyra Technologies, Inc.
105 Summerwood Lane
Forest, VA 24551
(804) 525-8510 (voice)
(804) 525-0974 (FAX)
Some Baseball Notes:
The Keydets have six daily starters batting .300 or above,
number they finished the season with last year ... They also have two
off-the-bench players batting over .300 ... Not a single VMI starter is
batting below .200 ... Jon Long went 7-for-15 last week, raising his
average from .250 to .284 ... Before a 0-3 performance on Sunday vs.
Western Carolina his average was as high as .295 ... Long was a member
of Gines' "Junior Varsity" squad last year and saw action in only 5
games ... Despite their 8.23 ERA, Keydet pitchers have accumulated 243
strike outs, striking out nearly 20% of batters faced ... VMI hurlers
recorded only 300 K's in all of 1997 ... Chris Brooks had his 11-game
hitting streak brought to an end with an 0-for-5 outing on Sunday
against Western Carolina.
New SC Commissioner: The following article provides details re: the SC's new commissioner.
Sources: White to be named SC chief
By ROB DANIELS, Staff Writer
Alfred B. White, the administrator of the NCAA's successful
$40 million corporate partner program, will be named commissioner of the
Southern Conference on Monday, sources said.
White is believed to be the first African American selected to
Division I conference not composed largely or exclusively of
historically black schools.
A nationally recognized expert in sports marketing, he will
take over a
league seeking a higher profile and will succeed Wright Waters, who
resigned Jan. 31 to enter private business in Alabama.
"They made a great choice," said Bill Hancock, the
director of the NCAA
basketball tournament and one of White's best friends. "He can relate to
everyone from college presidents to the student managers. That is his
White was selected from a diverse field of applicants that
assistant commissioner Tom Mickle and Midwestern Collegiate Conference
commissioner Jon LeCrone, both of whom withdrew from consideration,
He will lead an organization with a 77-year history, and the
significance of his hiring will not be lost on the athletic community.
Minority enrollment at many league members is below the national
In addition, Southwestern Athletic Conference commissioner Jim
expert on the topic, said no current Division I league, other than the
predominantly black SWAC and MEAC, has ever been directed by an African
American on a permanent basis.
"I think I have an almost bittersweet feeling about
it," said Charles
Harris, commissioner of the MEAC and another of White's friends, upon
learning of the selection. "I'm really delighted for Alfred. I'm
delighted for the Southern Conference. But it's amazing that --
particularly in the sports enterprise -- we're approaching the year 2000
and we're still talking about firsts."
White, a graduate of Texas Tech, was attending the NCAA hockey
championships in Boston on Thursday and could not be reached for
He entered athletics administration as an assistant sports
director at his alma mater before going to the NCAA in 1983. He was
directly responsible for promotions of all 82 NCAA championship events
-- from the men's Final Four to women's field hockey, many of which have
grown dramatically this decade.
Men's soccer has evolved from a 5,000-seat venue in Tampa in
anticipated ticket sales of 35,000 in Charlotte's Ericsson Stadium in
1999. Men's lacrosse routinely sold out the lower bowl of Maryland's
Byrd Stadium in the past five years, attracting nearly 30,000 fans.
"There were other people before him in charge of
promotions, but Alfred certainly took it to a new level once he got
involved in it," said Dave Cawood, White's former boss at the NCAA and
now the senior vice president of Host Communications, which coordinates
the NCAA radio network.
From championships, White became head of the corporate partner
which builds financial relationships between the NCAA and 19 giants from
all around the American business landscape. Among those affiliated with
the NCAA are Marriott, American Airlines, RCA and the conglomerate of
Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Pepsi. The companies kick in cash to become
official suppliers of goods to the organization and receive substantial
exposure in return.
Part of White's job has been to satisfy the companies without
their presence ubiquitous at the event itself.
Unlike in professional sports, in which signs visible to the
camera feature corporate logos, the court and its surroundings are
relatively free of advertising.
"What he has done with the corporate partners program is
that he has
been a tremendous communicator," Hancock said, "so that from day one
when they get in the program, they know what to expect. And he's
Among White's work seen in the Triad is the marketing plan for
women's soccer championships at UNCG, a concept that sought not only to
make Mountain Dew an official soft drink of the tournament but to put
fans in the stands. Display stands at grocery stores in 15 Triad-area
counties allowed customers to buy cans with championship logos and fill
out forms for tickets.
"When people think of the corporate partner program, they
dollars to the NCAA membership, which does happen," Hancock said. "But
Alfred was enough of a visionary that he saw beyond the cash dollars to
the value of joint marketing."
The games sold out this year, but UNCG athletics director
said some 1998 championship tickets have already been sold off the '97
Mountain Dew campaign.
"That promotion was a plus because it increased the
awareness of 15
counties," Bobb said. "People would call in and say, 'I understand
you're sold out for '97, but what about '98?' And the Pepsi-Mountain Dew
folks knew that."
White will be introduced as the sixth commissioner in the
Conference's history at the Grove Park Inn at noon Monday. The previous
chiefs have been Wallace Wade (1950-60), Lloyd Jordan (1960-74), Ken
Germann (1974-87), Dave Hart (1987-91) and Waters.
He'll have two principal issues to tackle. The Southern has
been one of
the nation's best Division I-AA football conferences, but I-AA as a
whole is constricting. Marshall left the league to enter the big time of
I-A this past year, and other schools nationwide have made or are
contemplating the jump.
In basketball, the Southern Conference men finished 22nd out
conferences in the 1997-98 Ratings Percentage Index, a mathematical
gauge of teams' and leagues' relative strength. The league's tournament
at the Greensboro Coliseum is the facility's biggest money-loser, and
the attendance of 16,131 for this year was the lowest officially
released figure since 1983.
Unlike this past season, when Greensboro hosted the Southern
tournaments and the NCAA East regionals, White's league will be the only
postseason college basketball tenant at the coliseum in 1999.
Former VMI Head Football Coach: The following is an excerpt from an article indicating the former VMI coach Eddie Williamson will be a head coach in the Lone Star state.
By DOUG DOUGHTY
THE ROANOKE TIMES
WILLIAMSON AT BAYLOR: A chain of
events that began with North
Carolina football coach Mack Brown going to Texas has resulted in
Eddie Williamson's arrival at Baylor University.
Williamson, the head coach at VMI from
1985-88, was the
assistant head coach and coached the offensive line at North Carolina
for the past five years.
That's it for this week. Next update will be in two weeks.
Yours in the Spirit,
RB Lane '75
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