The Virginia Military Institute, a
proud, tradition-bound military school
in conservative Lexington, Va., fought
almost ten years to keep women out
of its ranks. Women, VMI officials
argued, would disrupt the school's
regime, and wouldn't be able to
survive the school's "adversative"
method of training.

The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed.
In 1996, the court ruled that VMI's
exclusion was unconstitutional: it
had to admit women, or lose funding.
A year later, in August 1997, the first
female cadets joined the school's
infamous "Rat Line" of incoming

Thirty women enrolled. The first
weeks, they faced physical strain,
emotional stress and controlled
harassment by their upperclassmen
– just like their male counterparts did,
and just like generations of male
cadets did before them. Another year
at VMI had begun.