Lessons Learned

By Goral, Tim | University Business, January 2012 | Go to article overview

Lessons Learned


Goral, Tim, University Business


AS THIS ISSUE OF UNIVERSITY BUSINESS WAS being prepared to go to press, we were all stopped in our tracks as word came, first via social media and then from conventional news sources, that another shooting had taken place at Virginia Tech.

In the midst of the early confusion, our thoughts immediately went back to the 2007 rampage that left 33 people dead. In the aftermath of that tragedy, Virginia Tech was ultimately fined $55,000 by the Department of Education because the school reportedly waited more than two hours from the first gunshot to alert students, teachers, and staff to take cover and avoid the campus. (And, in a weird twist of fate, on the same day last month's shooting took place, Virginia Tech officials, including campus security, were in Washington to appeal that fine.) But this time proved different.

While authorities are still trying to learn why Ross Truett Ashley, who was not a VT student, walked on campus and killed police officer Deriek Crouse before eventually taking his own life, the institution's emergency alert system, overhauled and improved after 2007, worked as intended. Buildings went into automatic lock down, and students were alerted by text alerts, tweets, instant messages, and more to stay put. Local and state law enforcement deployed immediately to sweep the area in a massive manhunt. The VT administration did everything by the book this time out, and for this they must be commended. The school's actions that day are a good example of how to do things right. …

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