26 March 2008

Virginia Tech Reaches Settlement With Parents of Murdered Students

"Those close to the victims of the Virginia Tech mass shootings offered mixed reactions Tuesday to a proposed multimillion-dollar state settlement and whether it will properly honor their loved ones."

Families of the victims have until Monday to say whether they'll accept the settlement, which would give $100,000 to representatives of each of the 32 killed and ensures that families will have the chance to talk to the governor and university officials about the shootings.

As one observer noted this morning in online comments, "So Virginia Tech thinks that the life of a student they disarmed and then failed to protect is worth $100,000? Despicable!"

The full story from Associated Press is here.


Anonymous said...

Wow - I don't mean to sound callous, but on what legal theory are the families of these tragically slain students entitled to money from the university??

They were adults paying to attend classes, not wards of the college. Maybe there's some negligence I missed in the details, but I don't think the families should get anything from the school except heartfelt condolences...

Brent Greer said...

There is concern by the university that they may have exposure because police waited so long to get into the building where the second shooting happened. They cordoned off the area but did not go in for some time. Also, some concern that they did not lock down the campus after the first shooting in the morning.

On the other hand, there are those today who are saying that the university should be sued silly unless they do something to reduce the chances that such a mass murder won't happen again - such as repealing the ban on personal carry on campus. Give the kids and profs a fighting chance to defend themselves.

The university is being hammered on this decision from many sides today. Thanks for writing!

Anonymous said...

I had forgotten about the morning shooting and the lame response - that makes some sense (no slam dunk, but at least it passes the straight-face test).

I think I am against creating this whole new Tort of "failure to allow you to defend yourself" at least in most instances. My property rights to say, if I choose, "you can't come on my property with a gun" do, and should continue to, trump any right you have to have to carry one. While I wouldn't exercise that property right, I think I'm more offended at the thought of infringing on absolute property rights dating back close to 600 years than CCW. You could always just choose to stay off my property if you refuse to give up your gun.

It is a much more nuanced question when it is an essential service, so a citizen doesn't REALLY have a choice whether to be there or not (and maybe college should qualify - not strictly mandatory, but still...). It's an interesting area of the law, but it drives me crazy when many hypocritical gun enthusiasts claim to hate lawyers, hate gonvernment interference, hate that everybody sues for getting burned by McDonald's etc., while at the same time, they want to rush to a lawyer and the courts to sue for some fantasy cause of action called "you stripped me of my right to carry so you are responsible if somebody beats me up or shoots me."

I don't buy that at all, especially when the citizen has the right to decline disarming and going on that property. Our cause is better served through education and lobbying to teach that allowing profs/teachers/citizens to carry is just plain SMART, rather than "you better let us or we'll sue you!"

SERAPH said...


The SERAPH Research Team, consisting of education and law enforcement experts, has discovered five reasons for unsafe college campuses.

The SERAPH Research Team provides a bi-yearly school-safety report for Congress and in 2006 prepared an assessment of the “The Virginia Tech Review Panel Report”.

In its analysis of security concerns at colleges and universities across the country, SERAPH has determined:

1. Since the Columbine massacre in 1999, police departments across the United States have been training in “active shooter” response. This has been a well-established practice for use in public [K-12] schools.

However, our survey of college and university security directors and police chiefs shows that few have had this training. Two reasons were given: Administrators often do not want to pay for the training or in some cases bar campus security/police from participating in training to avoid what they perceived to be a "militaristic campus atmosphere”.

2. College administrators have no training in security or police operations and as a result micromanage security operations on their campuses. This is problematic because of the obvious delay it causes in response time. In addition, when a college or university has a police department, administrative micromanagement can violate state law regarding obstruction of justice.

3. A proper security audit is vitally important to campus security. However, our survey of security directors / police chiefs indicates that most college administrators will not allow these assessments to be done out of fear of liability exposure and the chance the audit would require changes in management systems.

4. Threat assessment as a science has existed in the United States since the early 1940s. Predication and prevention of violence is a critical aspect of campus security and one that, in SERAPH’s experience, seriously is lacking on higher-education campuses. All Resident Assistants, security / police and department administrators should be trained to identify violent behavior in students, staff and visitors.

A lack of systematic monitoring of people on campus contributes to crime.

5. An emergency plan is only as good as the data in it and the ability of key personnel to use it effectively.

Training is important for the effective management of an emergency by key personnel. You cannot ask untrained people to do what trained people do.

SERAPH Research Team: http://www.seraph.net/about_seraph.html