The class system is the basis of student government at VMI. Freshmen are called “rats” until they earn the right to become Fourth Classmen; sophomores are Third Classman; juniors are Second Classmen; and seniors are called First Classmen. Rats are the bottom of the class system. Cadets gain privileges and responsibilities for each year at the Institute.
The General Committee, or GC, controls the class system at VMI and consists of the class officers of the upper three classes. It publishes standards to be adhered to by all cadets in Barracks, in military formations, and in public. The GC monitors every facet of cadet life – from class privileges to the appearance, discipline and reputation of the Corps of Cadets.
Committees under the GC are: the Officer of the Guard Association (OGA), composed of First Class privates, and dedicated to facilitating communication, harmony and discipline with the Corps; the Executive Committee (EC), composed of the GC plus the President of the OGA, which enforces standards of appearance and conduct; and the Rat Disciplinary Committee (RDC), which is responsible for molding the rats into a class and the Cadet Equity Association (CEA).