Breaking Out VMI and the Coming of Women (Paperback)
|Author: Laura Fairchild Brodie|
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|On June 26, 1996, in a ruling that no one at the Virginia Military Institute wanted to hear, the Supreme Court declared that women could no longer be refused admission. A year later, thirty women received their crew cuts and spent their first night inside the barracks where in previous years even the mothers of new students were denied entry.|
As a member of VMI's "assimilation committee", Laura Fairchild Brodie is able to take us behind the scenes, telling the story of this remarkable transition at the last all-male military academy in the voices of the participants themselves -- from concerned administrators to angry alumni, and from ambivalent cadets to determined female recruits. And in a new foreword to the Vintage edition, Brodie interviews members of the first co-ed class (now preparing for graduation in May 2001) to find out how they feel now, looking back on their historic experience.
From the Publisher:
On July 26, 1996, the United States Supreme Court nullified the single-sex admissions policy of the Virginia Military Institute, the last all-male military college in America. Capturing the voices of female and male cadets, administrators, faculty, and alumni, Laura Brodie tells the story of the Institute's intense planning for the inclusion of women and the problems and triumphs of the first year of coeducation.
Brodie takes us into the meetings where every aspect of life at VMI was analyzed from the per-spective of a woman's presence: housing, clothing, haircuts, dating, and the infamous "Ratline"-the months of physical exertion, minimal sleep, and verbal harassment to which entering cadets are subjected. Throughout the process the administration's aim was to integrate women successfully without making adjustments to VMI's physical standards or giving up its tradition of education under extreme stress.
No other military college had done so much to prepare. But would it work? With everyone on the Post, we hold our breath as Brodie takes us through Hell Night, the unrelenting months of the Ratline, the fraternization, hazing, and authority issues that arose, the furtive sexual encounters, the resentments and, for the women, the daily difficulties of maintaining a feminine identity in a predominantly male world. Despite the challenges, we see the women ultimately making a place for themselves. Though new problems continue to arise, Brodie's lively and inspiring account makes it clear that VMI's story is an important and timely one of institutional transformation.