Myths & Truths about VMI
VMI's Corps of Cadets charged into a pitched battle as an infantry unit and was credited with turning the tide of battle. TRUTH
The VMI Corps of Cadets fought as a unit at the Battle of New Market, Va., on May 15, 1864. Two hundred fifty seven cadets were on the field. Ten cadets were killed in battle or died later from the effects of their wounds; 45 were wounded. The Battle of New Market is just one of 15 occasions during the Civil War when the Corps of Cadets was called into the field, from the First Manassas to the fall of Richmond.
Cadets must agree to commission in the armed forces upon graduation. FALSE
While VMI encourages service to country, and requires all cadets to participate in an ROTC program of their choice, VMI does not require commissioning. Approximately 50% of VMI’s graduates select a civilian career path ever prepared to perform as a citizen soldier. VMI believes that the method of service to country and community is a personal decision that rests at the very core of a graduate.
With everything going on at VMI, there is rarely any time for athletics. FALSE
Every athlete is a cadet and every cadet is an athlete. That’s not just a catchphrase. It’s an ethic at VMI that has very real implications. VMI fields numerous teams on the NCAA Division I level. Approximately one-third of the Corps of Cadets plays on one of VMI's intercollegiate athletic teams. Cadets who do not participate in varsity athletics are expected to participate in club or intramural athletic programs. VMI recognizes that athletics competition is an integral component of the VMI experience. In addition, it is a highly effective means of developing leadership skills.
There are secret tunnels beneath the parade ground. MAYBE... MAYBE NOT
And, no, you can’t get into them. We’ve never met anyone who has actually found catacombs that are rumored to exist. There are steam tunnels in certain locations, but that doesn’t make nearly as good of a story as catacombs. Our infrastructure above ground is a different matter, though. VMI’s extensive renovation and new building program is driven by the mission to build leaders for our world. The Superintendent’s Vision 2039 aims to maintain the historic atmosphere of the Post as it develops the modern, technologically advanced facilities VMI needs to prepare cadets for lives of success, service, and leadership.
Stonewall Jackson’s ghost haunts Jackson Memorial Hall. FALSE
We’re not quite sure who may or may not be haunting JM Hall, but we do know that most building and classrooms stay open and available for Cadet use. The Honor Code is the most important aspect of VMI: “A Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do.” It is by this code that academic tests go unproctored, personal property goes unsecured, and Cadets are given an opportunity to live as men and women of honor.
VMI is known for its nationally-ranked engineering programs, but it does not offer a liberal arts education. FALSE
VMI has been ranked as the top public liberal arts college in the nation for six consecutive years by US News and World Report. A major academic goal is to ensure that every VMI cadet, regardless of academic major, is properly prepared for leadership and citizenship in the 21st century.
When you rub the cannonball-ring on the corner of the parade ground, you are guaranteed to marry your Ring Figure date. FALSE
We all know that there are no guarantees in love and war. Among the many social events, the second class Ring Figure Ball is perhaps the most memorable. Cadets in their formal uniforms with their dates create a sea of white on the dance floor to celebrate the earning of “The Ring.” Incidentally many VMI Alumni are proud that they indeed married their Ring Figure date … the legend lives on.
A military education only benefits people who wish to go into the military. FALSE
By its very nature, a military education is practical experience in leadership training not experienced at other colleges. Through a structured environment, cadets learn the skills for success that will serve them throughout their lives. At VMI, opportunities to lead are embedded in everything—from student government to athletics to barracks life. As a result, graduates bring these highly valued skills for success to a wide range of career fields.
VMI offers a level playing field for all who decide to walk through the arches: TRUE
Life in the barracks and in uniform embraces the development of an individual’s character. The system is designed to remove wealth and former station in life as factors in one’s standing as a cadet, ensuring equal opportunity for all to advance by personal effort and to enjoy those rewards that are earned.
Only men can attend VMI. FALSE
Female Cadets have met the challenges of the Rat Line since 1997. VMI believes in a philosophy of One Corps. The challenge and success of the VMI leader development program is available to all qualified students, with no bearing on race, religion, or gender. The term “brother rat” is a term that is not gender specific and that points to the lifetime bond established by those who successfully complete the Rat Line.