Being a female at an all-male school can be difficult sometimes. I can’t be a part of a sorority, wear a pretty dress at a formal, or have a bunch of life-long sisters, and that’s okay—well minus the dress part. Instead of life-long sisters, I am part of one big fraternity and have life-long brothers. That’s right! I’m one of the guys—well, sort of. Some of them still haven’t gotten used to us women being at the school and they don’t like it—and probably never will. But the really neat thing is, I have proven to them and more importantly to myself, that I belong there; same as them.
Interestingly enough, V.M.I. was the founder of three fraternities in the history of the school. Immediately following the Civil War, fraternal societies flourished at the college. During this time, it was an all-male institution. The three fraternities that were founded at V.M.I. include Alpha Tau Omega, Kappa Sigma Kappa, and Sigma Nu; all of which are currently located at colleges across the world, but are no longer a part of V.M.I. In 1885 the V.M.I Board of Visitors ruled that cadets could no longer join fraternities, based on the belief that allegiance to a fraternal group undermined the cohesiveness of and loyalty to the Corps of Cadets. And I suppose in some ways this is true. But one thing is for certain: Even though there may not be any fraternities at the school anymore, V.M.I. is one big fraternity in itself.
Now of what little I know about fraternities, I do know that they strive to produce ethical leaders that are instilled in the principles of honor, trust, and integrity, etc.; which is basically what V.M.I endeavors to produce from its cadets. Additionally, fraternities also have that sense of brotherhood, which is not lacking in the Corps of Cadets. Brotherhood is one of the most important values you learn right off the bat at V.M.I. The first year of school is the toughest year, but you soon learn that you aren’t alone. All of your classmates are facing the same pain and grueling obstacles as you, and you have each other to help get through them. That is mainly why we call each other Brother Rats or BRs. It’s no different than the initiations that fraternities put their pledges through. The similarities are apparent.
Even though there might not be individual fraternities still present at the school, it can’t be denied that V.M.I is one huge one. The Board of Visitors might have ruled that allegiance to a fraternal group took away from the cohesiveness and loyalty to the Corps, but what they didn’t realize was that they made one on the basis of precisely what banded them in the first place. The fraternity of V.M.I pledges allegiance to the cohesiveness of and loyalty to the Corps of Cadets. In the end, we all become one because we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Ra Virginia Mil!