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FIRE/SPLC Warning Letter to VMI Commandant References Documented First Amendment Rights Violations

“VMI lacks the authority to make any decision on behalf of The Cadet”

For Immediate Release

22 September 2022

On Wednesday 21 September, Robert Morris ‘79, Alumnus Mentor of "The Cadet" newspaper, presented the VMI Board of Visitors with a letter written by Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) attorney Anne Marie Tamburro, which was also signed by the Student Press Law Center (SPLC). This letter documents statements from cadets which summarized actions by the VMI Commandant of Cadets, Adrian Bogart, and other administration officials, that violated the First Amendment rights of members of "The Cadet" staff.

The letter states that “'The Cadet' on several occasions, faced intimidation from VMI administrators to publish content more flattering to the college”; that the administration had exerted influence that reflected, “a serious intrusion on the The Cadet’s independence”; that the administration had made, “too many missteps to be mentioned in a single letter.” Before concluding with a call on VMI to, “recommit to its legal obligations”, it also notes silence from VMI’s attorney, a representative of the Attorney General of Virginia, in response to complaints.

FIRE’s purpose, as a nonpartisan group, is “to defend and sustain the individual rights of all Americans to free speech and free thought.” SPLC’s is to provide at no charge, training, information, and legal assistance to student journalists and educators.

The letter can be downloaded here:

Following a number of recent communications that have cast doubt on the candor and objectivity of the VMI administration, The Spirit of VMI Political Action Committee expresses its grave concerns about these charges. SOVP states its unconditional commitment to the First Amendment Rights of all cadets, faculty, and staff, exhorts the Institute to provide complete transparency about these incidents, and if necessary, detail corrective actions and procedural improvements it intends to take in order to prevent further violations.

SOVP will review the administration’s response directly with FIRE, other free speech organizations, and elected officials to monitor VMI’s compliance. We have no freedoms, if not the basics.

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Founded in 2021, the Spirit of VMI PAC is a registered Virginia Political Action Committee whose purpose is to preserve VMI’s reputation as an elite leadership institution.

Point of Contact:

SOVP Communications Staff:

Visit the SOVP website:

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