The Ring-tum Phi

Police Chief raises concern about VMI, W&L relations

Al Thomas speaks to W&L students about staying safe when interacting with cadets on the weekends

Jordan Cohen

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Cam Tyler, ‘17, was throwing a birthday party for her housemate in their home on North Randolph Street when some unexpected visitors arrived.

“Two VMI guys walked up our front steps, and I can’t even remember if they knocked on our door or if they just came right in,” Tyler said. “But their explanation of why they needed to come in was a party that they were just at got busted, so they were running from the cops.”

The cadets were only briefly at the party made up of 30 Washington and Lee women, before Tyler overheard the cadets had invited friends. She asked them to leave.

Fifteen minutes later, they returned with three more cadets in tow. A girl standing near the front entrance shut the door before they could come inside.

“They weren’t belligerent, [and] they weren’t rude at first. It’s just, when they weren’t allowed back into our party the second time it [was] like we had taken something from them that they deserved,” Tyler said.

In a classroom meeting with W&L  journalism students organized by Professor Toni Locy, Lexington Police Chief Al Thomas expressed some concerns about the this type of late-night mingling between Virginia Military Institute keydets and W&L students.

“What’s the deal with you guys mixing with VMI now?” Thomas asked a class of W&L students last week. “I don’t know if I like that. That’s scary, to me.”

Thomas said this mix prompted more police presence on North Randolph Street this September, where VMI cadets and W&L students were partying together with greater frequency.

“So now we’ve got this mix here that bothers me just a bit, maybe it shouldn’t, but [at] that location we’re seeing the VMI Keydets join in on this party, and we’ve had a couple of fights out there, just minor, but we are concerned about that,” he said.

The issue with mixed nightlife is that VMI Keydets and W&L students are distinctly different, according to Thomas.

Said Thomas: “You guys are so completely different. Your two universities are so vastly different. Your cultures are different. When you put these two different universities together, in the middle of night, consuming alcohol, I have some concerns.”

He also noted the physicality required of the average VMI Keydet.

“They are trained killers,” he said. “These guys are going through military training, they don’t have the social life that W&L has.”

The most notable difference, Thomas said, is the regimented lifestyle of Keydets.

“Everything for their lives is structured, and then, every now and then, we let them loose, out into the public. And then we say okay, now we need you to behave like a normal 20 year old,” Thomas said. “They’re not normal. They’re different. They’re not your typical college: It’s a military institute.”

W&L students are freer in their social lives.

“For you guys, Lexington’s your home. You have free reign, free run of the whole city.”

This difference, compounded by drinking, says Lexington Detective Robert Smith, can cause friction.

“That can lead to the aggressive behavior that we see sometimes, with the binge drinking and, kind of, congregating,” he said. “With the differences, it will just, sort of, escalate very quickly at times.”

Camille Lejeune, ‘17, said that for the most part, she doesn’t mind the rare times when cadets come to W&L parties.

“I don’t have anything against it to be completely honest,” she said. “It’s just that it never happens because we don’t know them.”

Thomas made clear, however, that he is not suggesting the schools should be completely separate.

“There are a number of events and endeavors that you guys can partner in, and do great things,” he said.

His concerns lie with what happens in the late hours of the night.

“I want you to understand the context that I mention this is we’re talking one o’clock in the morning, you know, drinking,” Thomas said. “That’s dangerous, or potentially dangerous.”

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57 Responses to “Police Chief raises concern about VMI, W&L relations”

  1. Rachel Reibach on November 10th, 2015 5:39 pm

    I find this article to be extremely offensive, misleading, and one-sided. I don’t think this school and its media should be institutionally supporting the rift between VMI and W&L students. As both officers have children at VMI, I’m sure these quotes are out of out of context and being used to further an outlandish anti-VMI argument. These cadets are not being trained to kill. My brother is a sophomore at VMI and is getting a great engineering education while learning how to march in formation, keep his uniform intact, and survive in the wilderness. They are learning structure and I don’t think we should attack them for not having the professional binge drinking skills necessary to be on par with W&L students. This newspaper is public and I know for a fact this article has already been seen by many cadets, including my brother. I don’t think that it is in the best interest of the school to promote this kind of tension between a school that is inevitably our next-door-neighbor.

  2. Stephanie Malaska on November 10th, 2015 5:59 pm

    As a W&L woman (c/o 2013), I find the tone of this article absurd, and believe it only serves to worsen already strained relations between the two very different schools. I *chose* to host parties and associate with VMI men, many of whom were far greater gentlemen than their male counterparts at W&L. The only time I saw scuffles occur was when the drunk fraternity guys saw their “turf” (or “their” women) threatened and decided to act hatefully toward VMI males–some of whom decided not to stand for it and defended themselves. While neither school is perfect, I find the perspective of those quoted in the article to be unhelpful and very unfair to the many upstanding and respectful men at VMI–many of whom, also, became close friends of mine. And, if we’re going to talk about the dangers of genders commingling in the alcohol-infused late hours of the night, let’s at least include a good hard look at the rampant problems at W&L as well.

  3. LOCKUPTHOSESAVAGES on November 10th, 2015 6:56 pm


  4. cris on November 10th, 2015 7:03 pm

    After reading this article I was astonished about how one sided and anti-vmi this was. This type of writing is not real journalism.

  5. Tyrone on November 10th, 2015 7:14 pm

    Wow, sounds like straight up 50’s segregation to me. God forbid, two different types of people get along!

  6. Alan Cowan on November 10th, 2015 7:19 pm

    The officer is pitiful, but correct. The average W&L student should not mix with VMI cadets. The cadets are too good for W&L students. W&L produces politically correct products that can’t handle themselves outside of a controlled environment. VMI produces much more mature decision making adults who can handle themselves. The spineless president of W&L sets the continually lower standard at his school. The police officer is as pitiful as the W&L students.

  7. Arthur B Loefstedt III on November 10th, 2015 7:25 pm

    The Lexington Chief of Police actually spoke these idiotic words??This is perhaps the most offensively stupid rubbish that I have read in quite some time.
    “He also noted the physicality required of the average VMI Keydet.
    “They are trained killers,” he said. “These guys are going through military training, they don’t have the social life that W&L has.””The most notable difference, Thomas said, is the regimented lifestyle of Keydets.”“Everything for their lives is structured, and then, every now and then, we let them loose, out into the public. And then we say okay, now we need you to behave like a normal 20 year old,” Thomas said. “They’re not normal. They’re different. They’re not your typical college: It’s a military institute.”
    What a boob. If I were Gen Peay I would make sure that every member of the VMI faculty and staff protest the continued employment of this clown by the town of Lexington, and I would love to hear how any Cadet at VMI could expect to get treated fairly by the police in Lexington when comments like these come from the Chief of Police. And BTW “Chief” – Cadets and W&L Students have been socializing for the last 40 years despite the differences in the campus lives. Trained killers indeed. Lexington would be better off if it had a trained Police Chief

  8. Anon on November 10th, 2015 7:26 pm

    In regards to being labeled trained killers, I think (as a VMI cadet) this involves a base ignorance of who we are as a school and what we do. It has always bene problematic when outsiders ignorant of what goes on our campus attempt to comment on our lifestyle and characters, while having very little idea of what they’re talking about. Might I remind Mr. Thomas that only a percentage of the Corps commissions into the military, and only a fraction of that percentage are commissioned into military occupations that would potentially entail the taking of human life. So no, Mr. Thomas, we’re not trained killers. We don’t commission killers, we don’t matriculate killers, and we don’t train killers. That’s not what this institution. For over 150 years, VMI cadets have been recognized as citizens of upstanding and moral character, who value ethical behavior as well as honor, discipline, and integrity. So-you are right, we are different, and proud of it. It’s only sad that you might question that, as well as the motives of the corps of cadets, while remaining of ignorant of our lifestyle and credo.

  9. ProfVMI on November 10th, 2015 7:29 pm

    My students are not trained killers. They are students. I’d be a little more concerned about the serial rapist frat boys.

  10. Jackson8 on November 10th, 2015 7:35 pm

    Its nice to see that this story accurately represents the opinions of students from both W&L and VMI. Maybe Cohen should have bothered to do some real work before writing this article because it clearly doesn’t seem biased at all. But what do I know, I’m just a contracted honors cadet how works everyday in the hopes of being able to one day defend your right to write articles like this (aka “a trained killer’).

  11. bill on November 10th, 2015 7:39 pm

    Have fun getting sued for libel

  12. Barbara Martin on November 10th, 2015 7:48 pm

    Cadets are like any other college students. Wasn’t it a W&L student that drove while drunk with more passengers than needed and wrecked killing a fellow student?? Was a VMI cadet present when a W&L student fell from a balcony while intoxicated?? Cadets are not the enemy and I take offense to the immature notion.

  13. Chris Dixon on November 10th, 2015 7:57 pm

    Trained killers? These guys are going through tough military training? That couldn’t be further from the truth. VMI cadets do live a more regimented lifestyle and don’t participate in the same cultural mores and fashions of the average W&L student, but to characterize VMI cadets as aggressive, insensitive or socially inept demonstrates a complete lack of understanding. It stereotypes the cadets without any educational background. The other possibility is the police officer was being grandiose because he wanted to curry favor with the W&L group. In either case, it is irresponsible. The real basis for the concern is drinking to excess by either group that does lead to problems. Let us focus on the real issue and not speak in useless hyperbole.
    -Chris (VMI ’90)

  14. Michael E. Mathis and Cindy Mathis ( and family ) on November 10th, 2015 8:05 pm

    As the proud parent of a VMI graduate and commissioned Army officer, class of 2015, I am astounded at the ignorant, condescending and degrading comments from Chief Al Thomas. At the very least, considering the positive visibility and economic impact that BOTH VMI and W&L bring to Lexington, it seems incredibly short-sighted and small-minded that the leading law enforcement figure in town would speak of students in either school in such a way.
    It is even more shocking, when one considers that the majority of VMI graduates, following so many before them in the school’s 176 year history, will follow their dreams of a career in the nation’s armed forces. During their military careers, these “trained killers” who are “not normal” will possibly risk their lives to defend the right of all Americans, yes even Chief Thomas, to make these kinds of denigrating and disrespectful statements.
    So here’s your Veterans’ Day gift from Lexington’s “finest”…on behalf of the parents, family, friends and all supporters who recognize your commitment to excellence, to your brother Rats, to VMI, to your family and friends and to your country, (whether you serve in the military or not) we know Mr. Thomas could not possibly be more wrong.
    If ever a town and their citizens needed to take a hard look at their “leaders” this is it. Our 4 years’ experience in the beautiful town of Lexington were some of the best of our lives and we will always value it. We know, and will tell anyone who asks us, that Mr. Thomas’ prejudice and hatred do not represent the wonderful people of Lexington we came to know.

  15. anita tomlinson on November 10th, 2015 8:14 pm

    TRAINED KILLERS. Are you seriously stupid. VMI is a military school yes and while they are getting a degree some are preparing to fight for their country. THAT includes those at W&L that love to party non stop. VMI students have codes they live by. Are you that afraid? Hmm how many W&L ladies like to party at VMI or attend the formals? This is the biggest joke I have ever heard of. Please remember this….every year after graduation there are men and women that leave to fight for you and your country. They give it their ALL in school and deployed. Next time you partying think about those you now fear that are giving you freedom. This is for all military schools. Some even pay the ultimate price for you. Our local guy Chase P was from military school. He paid with his life. Now his younger brother Tyler from VMI is serving his country. Seriously….how stupid…..what a bunch of crap!!!

  16. Erin D on November 10th, 2015 8:33 pm

    TRAINED KILLERS?!! How ignorant can the police chief possibly be? Historically only about half of the VMI graduates go on to accept military commissions. On Veteran’s Day I would prefer our incredible young men and women who answer the call to defend this great nation be applauded for their future service. Less than one percent of our nation’s population is serving right now. I have not heard anything so offensive since my father was labeled a baby killer coming home from Vietnam. Maybe the police chief should enroll in a rhetoric class and learn how to speak less offensively if his mission is to keep the peace in the community. VMI offers one…but it sounds like his perception of the cadets may be way off the mark and he would prefer the more socialized W&L community.

  17. Chuck Story on November 10th, 2015 8:59 pm

    If Chief Thomas is that ignorant of the people he is hired to protect and serve, he owes it to the Lexington community to step down from his duties. His “trained killers” comment would be laughable on its face if not for the fact that he should be educated and experienced enough as a law enforcement officer to know better.

  18. Paul on November 10th, 2015 9:02 pm

    Unfortunately, our schools haven’t gotten along since 1839. But to call VMI full of trained killers is a pretty asinine statement, chief. That would be like someone saying the LPD is full of Barney Fifes.

  19. Stefan on November 10th, 2015 9:15 pm

    It is a sad reflection on our society when military service, regimentation (discipline) and putting others above self is such an alien culture that one feels threatened by it. To have this idea furthered by the Lexington police is truly disturbing, and Chief Thomas should be ashamed.

    My interactions with W&L students while I attended VMI were always positive. The W&L alumni I know have a respect for VMI, and I have a respect for W&L. Our two institutions have more in common than differences. R.E. Lee is rolling over in his grave (that happens to be on the W&L campus by the way) that the two groups of students whom he loved are being pitted against each other by the leaders of Lexington.

  20. Mary Murphy on November 10th, 2015 9:28 pm

    To Al Thomas,
    I am a mom of four sons. My youngest is now a third at VMI and I am very proud of my Cadet. I take offense at your comments: “Everything for their lives is structured, and then, every now and then, we let them loose, out into the public. And then we say okay, now we need you to behave like a normal 20 year old,” Thomas said. “They’re not normal. They’re different. They’re not your typical college: It’s a military institute.” My son is NORMAL. National Junior Honor Society in junior high school. Honor roll all semesters in High School. Summer swim team from 5 years old till 17 years old. Life guard. Football player, baseball player, basketball player, travel soccer play, Black Belt in Tae Kwon Doe, and four year wrester at Westfield High School. He also played Jesus in the Crucifixion for Easter at his Catholic grade school. WHAT IS NOT NORMAL ABOUT MY SON????
    This “not normal” guy will be defending our country, your country, your children’s country, and your grandchildren’s country. Have you? Will you? It has been my Cadet’s life long dream to be a leader and to defend his country and defend the Flag. This is not “normal” for most young men and women who do not want to risk their lives defending our Constitution. VMI is no “ordinary” college. But then, leaders do not “do ordinary”. I would welcome your comments sir. Mary Murphy, Centreville, VA

  21. Amy Walters on November 10th, 2015 9:34 pm

    “Trained killers?” Seriously? VMI is NOT training killers. My husband graduated from there (’87), and while I think I understand what Chief Thomas was attempting to convey, I am offended. VMI is educating young men and women to be honorable, contributing members of society. Yes, they are training cadets to defend the freedoms of our country, and some go on to serve in the military and many do not. I think it is unfair to portray these students as thugs or bullies or somehow “dangerous.”
    Yes, cadets are regimented and disciplined. These are qualities that will serve them well in life. But academics is at the forefront of their years at the Institute. Perhaps good, honest, punctual, courtesy, and intelligent young adults are not “normal,” to Chief Thomas. Yes, to attend VMI, one must be “different.” These kids are better than normal.

  22. Catherine on November 10th, 2015 9:40 pm

    I’m sorry but this just really disappoints me. Would the same thing be said if the young men were from W&L or from another college??

    VMI Cadets are also taught to be very respectful and if the young men in question were not then maybe they need disciplinary action.

    I have a daughter and I would rather have her party in a room full of VMI Cadets versus a room full of other college young men. I say this because her oldest brother just graduated from VMI this past year and the discipline and respect he and his fellow cadets show all men and women is 2nd to none.

    And by the way – I have worked with and still work with law enforcement for over 28 years and if the comments written here are truly what the Police Chief said then I am very sadden and would like to see the Institute work with the local law enforcement to educate them in what VMI is really all about.

    You will never find more respectful young men and women than those who come out of VMI!!

  23. Catherine on November 10th, 2015 9:59 pm

    And I would like to add that if the Police Chief’s words were taken out of context then the journalist should be fired as that is just plain and simple inappropriate and wrong.

  24. Megan on November 10th, 2015 9:52 pm

    You call this an article? You and the chief of police are a joke..

  25. Tim Rioux on November 10th, 2015 9:53 pm

    To All:

    As a VMI parent I am absolutely disgusted at Al Thomas’s “Chief of Police” comments. As a public figure who is suppose to protect the general public and promote harmony in the communities of Lexington he is trying to create separation between the two oldest institution’s in Lexington. Clearly these Cadets should have acted better. There are a lot of college students that should act better on a Saturday night. This however doesn’t gives the Chief of Police the right to call my son a trained killer. For him to classify VMI Cadets as trained killers and lacking social skills shows his ignorance! The Chief needs to visit the Institute and understand the heritage. There are two Institutions that will be a part of Lexington as long as the sun is rising “VMI & Washington & Lee”. Chief Thomas needs to be removed from his position.

  26. Chuck on November 10th, 2015 9:55 pm

    You are an idiot! Police chief and that ignorant makes you more dangerous than those “trained killers” as you refer, and you carry a weapon and a badge. Do some research before you make generalized, stupid comments in print. Remember, those cadets protect the Constitution that allows you to be an idiot.

  27. Bob Smith on November 10th, 2015 9:59 pm

    This is ridiculous..

  28. P Roberts on November 10th, 2015 10:29 pm

    Al Thomas needs to get his head out of his ass. I graduated from VMI and for a large portion of my Junior and Senior years I would sneak over to W&L on a Friday and/or Saturday night to go partying. I made friends. I had a standing invitation at a number of houses. Just because we go to VMI doesn’t mean we’re some kind of monster just waiting for a beer to let us unleash what we have in store. I find what he has to say offensive, and ridiculous. We’re still just college students, not some kind of super force.

  29. Joey jones on November 10th, 2015 11:18 pm

    They are all adults so how about talking to them like adults who have rights. VMI students are not trained killers they are kids seeking an education, the strong military training that once was is no longer. How about hosting a process meeting with both W&L and VMI students and I bet you will hear common values and similar struggles to make something of their lives. I’m trained in Circke Process , I would be happy to help, or you can read the books by Kay Pranus yourself, she has dealt with worse integrating criminals and society…we all could learn s little here…

  30. Kieran Mcgookan on November 10th, 2015 11:38 pm

    The chief sounds like a tool in this article. He has no clue about VMI and their training. They are students the same as W&L student that are taught about honor and respect of military life, however as a trained killer I seriously doube that. As a former military member I deal with VMI cadets a lot and do not see they are trained in hand to hand, knife use, or firing a gun for that matter. They learn military history, customs, and policy. Nope no killer instincts there. So get your fact straight chief before making yourself sound foolish in a news report.

  31. Concerned Citizen on November 10th, 2015 11:42 pm

    I assume that the Lexington PD has also been trained to use deadly force, and interacts with W&L students at one o’clock in the morning, at parties where alcohol is involved. Apparently those criteria alone are cause for grave concern. I wonder if we should be similarly worried…

  32. Veneta Dingus on November 10th, 2015 11:44 pm

    This is ridiculous! Trained killers?? How DARE he judge our sons and daughters this way! They are young men and women who are actually taught discipline, respect, love of their country and manners! I know these are foreign concepts to many over-indulged, spoiled and condescending college students but perhaps they should give it a try sometime. Perhaps if this “police chief” had half the integrity of these cadets, then he wouldn’t feel the need to cast aspersion on a lifestyle he obviously knows nothing about.

  33. Frances Kirchon on November 11th, 2015 5:04 am

    This Lexington Police Chief Al Thomas, is prejudices or has issues with the Military . If I was a full time resident of Lexington I would fight to have him losses his job. VMI needs to address this mans sick opinions of the VMI students.

  34. Jim Jenkins on November 11th, 2015 6:49 am

    As one of these “trained killers” thanks for this article around Veterans Day. I’d ask that you read Kiplings Poem “Tommy”.
    I’ve copy pasted it below. Your Chief is completely out of touch.

    I WENT into a public ‘ouse to get a pint o’beer,
    The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
    The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
    I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
    O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
    But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play,
    The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
    O it’s “Thank you, Mr. Atkins,” when the band begins to play.
    I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
    They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
    They sent me to the gallery or round the music ‘alls,
    But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
    But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
    The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
    O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.
    Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
    Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
    An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
    Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
    Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy how’s yer soul?”
    But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
    The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
    O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.
    We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
    But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
    An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints:
    Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
    While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an “Tommy, fall be’ind,”
    But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind,
    There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
    O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind.
    You talk o’ better food for us, an’schools, an’ fires an’ all:
    We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
    Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
    The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
    But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country,” when the guns begin to shoot;
    Yes it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
    But Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool you bet that Tommy sees.

  35. Tamyra. Cincala on November 11th, 2015 9:14 am

    As the mom of a former VMI Cadet and US Army Major, I find Mr. Thomas’ remarks offensive. He owes VMI, it’s Staff and Cadets a huge apology.

  36. DJL on November 11th, 2015 9:19 am

    Is this an piece from the Onion? I don’t remember the trained killer part when I was at VMI. There was something about organizing my room all the time and wearing drab clothing but that’s about it. Thomas should come on campus every once in a while.

  37. Terphoops on November 11th, 2015 10:57 am

    Dear Police Chief,
    What an ignorant statement and stance you are taking. Maybe you should take the time to get to know these so called trained killers that have been invading your town since 1836. Contrary to your beliefs they are fine young men who believe it or not can socialize with the highly cultured at W & L. I guess your officers go through some similar militaristic trainings and some probably have military background. I certainly hope you are not allowing them to patrol North Randolph Street

  38. Terphoops on November 11th, 2015 11:00 am

    Now let’s talk about your real issue. Alcohol, parties and boys (young men), I would hazard a guess that if the same situation occurred with young men from W & L and the same party who were not allowed in it could turn into some belligerent actions by a small minority. I can state this because I went to a similar university as W & L and issues like this did and still do arise.

  39. Laura Mitchell on November 11th, 2015 11:25 am

    Dear Editors of The Ring-tum Phi,
    I am shocked at the lack of integrity by one of your student journalists, Jordan Cohen who clearly lacks an understanding that a commitment to truth is essential. He has instead, like a propagandistic hack, inflamed passions through falsehoods and hyperbole. The article titled “Police Chief Raises Concern about W&L Relations” is a disgrace on many levels and it undermines imperative good relations between VMI and Washington and Lee, their students and generations of alumni. In addition, I would hope that Washington and Lee, of all places, would teach, in fact insist on accurate representations in print and make immediate amends when inaccurate, hurtful dissembling is discovered. A printed apology to all those affected by Mr. Cohen’s abject stupidity and a clear correction of the facts would be most welcome.

    Laura Mitchell

  40. S. Smith on November 11th, 2015 11:49 am

    As a retired LEO I find it disturbing that the local chief law enforcement officer would make such polarizing comments concerning the community that he is there to support.

    I am sure that any student of the law would see that such documented bias is probably indicative of a larger problem within the Lexington Police Department.

  41. David Greer on November 11th, 2015 12:37 pm

    The police chief’s description of VMI Cadets is shameful and slanderous. Not once does he try to say that there may be a few bad apples in the Corps, just as there are at W&L, who would act the way he describes. Cadets may have military training but they are also taught to be gentlemen, same as at W&L (“gentlemen” being a gender-neutral term in Lexington!).

    When I was enrolled at W&L 1976-1980, there were some incidents, and there were more friendships. Individual cadets were welcome at fraternity and other social functions; party crashers were not welcome, and both camps knew the difference. We interacted in the local bars, Goshen and down the road with no issues other than what was also found between rival fraternities or schools, but seldom anything serious. Our sisters went to Ring Figure (and now our fellow students do) and some cadets came to Fancy Dress.

    While the Chief has a point about the conduct of young males, at night with drinking and women around, he should really say no more than that the cadets, like the minks, will act like young males, at night with drinking and women around. Would he also slander a sports team, fraternity or club this way?

    I would hope that the W&L gentlemen, of both genders, will so behave when students from the other colleges want to join in the fun, so long, of course, as those other students also so comport themselves, rather than presuming bad behavior. With other forms of cultural intolerance being a topic these days, one would think the Police Chief would think through his statements, and that students would disregard them.

    Trained killers. Really.

  42. Patsy Standifer on November 11th, 2015 1:02 pm

    I am a born and raised Lexington girl and I
    Find this a paling. I’m sure things have changed since I left but when two 20 somethings can’t get along with each other you need to look at yourself and ask why. One group will defend our country while the other group will defend who if there is no country to defend,
    . Think about this for awhile.

  43. Diane Ritchie on November 11th, 2015 1:13 pm

    This is INCERDIBLY insulting to VMI Keydets. This law officer should be reprimanded. Trained killers, not normal sir you need to apolgize! You think W & L students are perfect??? I hope someone in charge at VMI reads this and demands an apology. Most of these men and women are not even entering the military. VMI does not train soldiers. You are also insulting the military in general. DEPLORABLE! !

  44. Tom Crush on November 11th, 2015 4:05 pm

    I note Chief Thomas said .”.We (VMI cadets ) were trained killers”. I didn’t think of myself as a trained killer when I was at the Institute – maybe I should have. Of course, since then, 1960-64, there have been many changes at VMI and at W&L. From the article , sounds as if the VMI rules on drinking have relaxed- or not enforced as they once were.

    Interesting article.

  45. Don Mccrady on November 11th, 2015 6:32 pm

    This police chief is a moron. What is he thinking. I have been in law enforcement for over 25 years. I have never heard such idiocy in my life. I did not know killing was major at VMI. How about honor, duty and integrity. You need to get rid of this elitist police chief.

  46. Norman Tippens on November 11th, 2015 11:52 pm

    What an ignorant set of statements. He should be fired.

  47. Gary C Barker, Citadel 1976 on November 12th, 2015 7:55 am

    I read your article about interactions with Keydets. I found the attitudes expressed very troubling. VMI has produced great leaders for our country. One example is General of the Army George Marshall. Another was my nephew who gave his life for his country while serving his country in Afghanistan. The intolerance exhibited by the article is alarming. I know enough about the culture of a military academy to know that if a cadet misbehaves in any way a call to the Commandant of Cadets will correct the situation. If trouble comes your way, who do you want by your side a VMI guy or a W&L frat boy. Oh in case you forgot your college is named for two great military leaders.

    Gary Barker
    Citadel class of 1976

  48. Bryce THomas Valentine on November 12th, 2015 10:58 am

    Dear Ladies and Gentlemen; as a VMI Alumni and one who has lived off post in Lexington, I am very concerned about some of the ideas and rhetoric expressed in this article. Perhaps a few comments about the VMI mindset might be in order here. The feeling a typical cadet has about interacting with WL students is usually marked by a benign bemusement. Your typical Cadet is very happy about being off post, and any opportunity to interact with them is usually marked with a distinct sense of happiness about being able to interact with, and indeed become, a “typical” college student for a while. If there was an issue of systemic violence between the two groups, then I would be concerned but to my knowledge , thats really never been the case. As to being ” Trained Killers”, that is a disturbing mis-charachtarization of Cadets. Of course they learn self-defense and offensive actions. But to know the violent crime rate of incidents attributed to Cadets since its inception in Rockbridge County should put to rest those mis-guided notions. The restraint and discipline instilled in Cadets assures that; Cadets kill beers and thats about it! These are not your typical, Hollywood automatons who exist to only to embrace violence. Its a real shame that anyone would try to paint them as such. In a society where only 3% of people serve in the military, I see and am frustrated by such a dangerous disconnect between two great Institutions. Perhaps if the schools came together on County related projects to help the City then they could foster a realistic image of each other. It certainly seems needed and cant hurt!

  49. Guillermo Calvo Mahe on November 12th, 2015 1:43 pm

    I’m a 19868 graduate of the Citadel and currently chair the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autonoma de Manizales in the Republic of Colombia, where I am also a frequent political commentator and civic activist. The gross intolerance demonstrated in this article, not by the W&L students but by the local police is outrageous. The VMI cadets and graduates I’ve been privileged to meet are outstanding human beings who mix well in any setting, from life and death situations to diplomatic functions to any type of social gathering. They are not trained killers though some will be, when their country requires it of them. Right now they are young men receiving a great all around education that will prepare them to become tomorrow’s leaders in every field, just as my classmates at the Citadel have become, or at the Naval Academy, or West Point. In Charleston we coexist successfully with students from many other local colleges and universities and frequently marry people we meet there. If there is a problem, or if one develops, it will likely be because of public employees who have no understanding of their roles in society, or perhaps, who lost a girlfriend to a VMI student or graduate.

  50. Guillermo Calvo Mahe on November 12th, 2015 2:08 pm

    Not that I condone party crashing by anyone. For anyone participating in a military college education, that is conduct unbecoming with severe consequences, not the case in most civilian colleges. Like a great many Citadel and VMI graduates, we have significant experience in other university settings at the graduate level so we have grounds for comparison. What we need in the US today are uniters, like Jim Webb, not dividers like these police officials.

  51. Angela Vizzi on November 12th, 2015 5:06 pm

    I am not sure I would worry so much about the “trained killers” at VMI. I would worry about the untrained killer with no respect for the weapon he or she uses impulsively while on a K-12 or college campus to randomly shoot people.

    Regardless of people, location, or event, it can become “potentially dangerous” to consume alcohol. During my cadetship, there was a great relationship between the individuals at the two schools. Cadets would attend events and parties hosted by W&L students all the time. As I recall, on more than one occasion, the individuals who were out of control after consuming alcohol at a party hosted by W&L students were local residents and/or W&L students.

    Remeber, at 1 am cadets are typically not trying to get caught “running the block”. Either way, can someone please let my husband know I am a “trained killer”, so he should probably help with dishes, laundry, and vacuuming more often! Hahaha…

  52. alum on November 12th, 2015 7:46 pm

    I must have missed out on the best part of the training before I graduated from VMI. Bummer.

  53. Carroll Warner on November 13th, 2015 3:23 pm

    I am appalled. If such behavior on the part of Cadets is true, they should have been placed on report and disciplined. This is a result of the continual dumbing down of discipline at such Military Institutions trying to dilute and denigrate the quality of the Military. With the advent of forced integration of females, and the abandonment of mandatory commissioning, the quality of Cadets matriculating has diminished if such behavior was tolerated. Frankly, in my day, we did not care to associate with the Minks as they were continually abusive and derisive of those of us responsible enough to want to serve our country. Virginia Military Institute-Class of 1976

  54. Phil Hubbard '83 on November 13th, 2015 3:46 pm

    I think the Police Chief is off base. VMI Cadets are not trained Killers as he references. They do have structure as a cadet but they are not all bad even at 1:00 AM. The real issue is at 20 years old, W&L and VMI Cadets are not legal to consume alcohol and they both need to be delt with the same. I am sure at all the W&L parties there are many under aged drinking. That is going to happen.

    I just cannot believe a police chief could say VMI cadets are trained killers. I graduated from VMI and I am not a trained Killer. Not everyone goes into the Military as a career. I have been an Engineer for 32 years after leaving VMI. There are many Cadets that have put their lives on the line, and some have given their lives, so people in Lexington and W&L can have freedoms that we all share in this great nation. I do not call that “Trained Killers”

  55. Marie Freeman on November 13th, 2015 7:29 pm

    That is ridiculous! I know several of the Keydets and they are fine young men. One of which I consider family! ! He is one of the most respectful and well rounded young men that I know!! Sounds like there is more jealousy there then concern! Maybe you should attend there and then maybe you would learn something! Can you hang? 🙂

  56. sal vitale on November 13th, 2015 8:52 pm

    The chief should know. He has a son at VMI

  57. Patrick Titus on November 15th, 2015 11:13 am

    A Tale of Two Universities: When Pampered, Privileged and Petulant meet America’s Disciplined, Hardened and Hungry Citizen Soldiers. These little brush-ups never amount to anything because even in the haze of drunkenness, a cadet knows he/she must return to an Institute where actions are governed through the prism of honorable conduct. To refer to VMI cadets as ‘trained killers’ is tantamount to calling a Stradivarius a ‘fiddle’. A VMI cadet is tempered in adversity, fed a steady diet of deprivation, sharpened by the blaze of military scrutiny. This article draws the most remarkable young men and women in America as stick figures. VMI welcomes one and all to visit the Institute to see the memorials to thousands of young military officers who have shaped the world’s finest country, while giving their lives to the cause. Many in America today fail to understand the importance of the institutions that bind Americans together. Yet, they call out to those same institutions when the wolf is at the door. Go ahead. Give the lads a beer. Make a friend of a cadet. Gals, you may even get an invite to the Ring Figure Ball where you’ll be treated like a lady and have the time of your life.

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The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University
Police Chief raises concern about VMI, W&L relations