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VMI alumna reacts to racism accusations

Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 5:35 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ) - As the fallout from a Washington Post article on the Virginia Military Institute continues, many are looking at the school and searching for ways to move forward.

Governor Northam announced a third party will investigate the allegations of racism, saying it’s important for everyone to feel comfortable.

“We want to make sure that VMI, as well as all schools in Virginia, are inclusive," he said, "And they’re welcoming and that our students feel comfortable being on the campus.”

When Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy arrived at the Virginia Military Institute, she had an early encounter with the sort of attitude described by the Washington Post.

“One of my roommates, when we were moving in, thought it would a great idea to put up a wall-sized Confederate flag," she said. "And I was in shock and awe, because I come from Petersburg, Virginia, which is a minority-majority community.”

Carroll Foy, now a lawyer in the House of Delegates and campaigning to be governor, was one of the first African American women to graduate from VMI. She has presented a seven-point plan in reaction to the problems described in the article.

“There were a lot of discriminations on all fronts, I have to say, and that’s one of the things that I’m most disappointed about," she said, "That VMI has not changed its culture as of yet.”

The school released a response Tuesday to the governor, saying in part: “Virtually all colleges in the 50 states can point to inappropriate behavior by their students or faculty members. VMI is not immune. However, systemic racism does not exist here and a fair and independent review will find that to be true.”

They said they “look forward to working with your cabinet members and the third-party reviewer with the utmost candor and transparency.”

Carroll Foy says she has been in contact with the school, the governor and others, and she is optimistic for VMI’s future.

“VMI’s history may be rooted in the Confederacy, but its future has to be rooted in diversity and inclusion," Carroll Foy said. "And that is the message that I have been sending forward.”

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