First Women Graduate from VMI Rat Line

Virginia Military Institute freshman, including 23 women, graduated from their long role as rats yesterday as they climbed to the top of a 30-foot mud hill that had been sprayed by fire hoses. This year’s rat line was the first to include women.

Twenty-three women endured the school’s long-standing ritual of abuse, which includes push-ups, hazing, and forced workouts in the middle of the night. Cadet commandant Col. James Joyner said that the bar was not lowered for the women, who proved themselves equal to the school’s “unforgiving traditions.”

The Supreme Court ordered VMI to admit women last year after a six-year-long court battle. Thirty women entered in the fall and the school expects around 40 freshman women next year.

Although seven women dropped out, none complained of sexual harassment or unfair treatment. Co-president of the National Women’s Law Center Marcia Greenberger said that judgment of VMI’s assimilation of women would be premature since the school “hasn’t been very open in describing its practices.”


Washington Post - March 17, 1998

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