Was Va Tech wrong on the day of the shooting?

From the Post:

The federal government said Tuesday it plans to issue the maximum possible fine against Virginia Tech– $55,000 — for violations of a campus safety law in connection with the 2007 shooting rampage that left more than 30 students and teachers dead.

A federal official wrote in a letter to university President Charles W. Steger that the penalty for failing to provide timely warnings about the threat to the campus on the day of the massacre should be greater.

“Virginia Tech’s violations warrant a fine far in excess of what is currently permissible under the statute,” Mary E. Gust, an official in the Education Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid, wrote to Steger.

Her conclusion represented a stinging rebuke for Virginia Tech, which has sought for nearly four years to overcome wounds inflicted by the deadliest school massacre in U.S. history. It also bolstered the view of some relatives of the shooting victims that the university was negligent in efforts to protect the campus community.

I emphatically disagree.  Early that morning Virginia Tech officials were confronted with what looked like at the time, from all reasonable appearances, to be an isolated act of murder between individuals who knew each other.  There was absolutely nothing to suggest that this was the just the first killing in what would turn out to be the infamous killing spree hours later.  Should a campus of 20,000 students automatically shut down because one of its students is murdered– in a crime that police consider to be isolated and with a killer with a known motive?  Maybe you can argue that, but it is entirely reasonable to notify students and simply move on.  Maybe Virginia Tech should have known better, but they were going with the best information supplied at the time.  I don’t think I want to live in a world where we always have to consider the absolute worst possibility.  Where any shooting anywhere may be the prelude to an unprecedented mass murder.  Looking at the totality of the evidence, I just don’t see how you can blame the University for their actions.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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