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Did Virginia Tech Provide Adequate Security on Campus?

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The nation is in mourning after the terrible events that transpired at Virginia Tech University yesterday morning.

A Virginia Tech senior from South Korea killed at least 30 people locked inside a classroom building in the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history, the university and police said Tuesday.

The first deadly attack, at a dormitory around 7:15 a.m., left two people dead. But some students said they didn’t get their first warning about a danger on campus until two hours later, in an e-mail at 9:26 a.m. By then the second attack had begun.

Questions will continued to be asked for months to come about the adequacy of the security provided on the campus of Virginia Tech in the aftermath of this national tragedy. Certainly, this issue should be analyzed. Crime on college campuses is a major concern across this country. However, the focus of security risks for colleges generally flows from problems with outsiders making their way on to the campus rather than those who have a right to be there based on enrollment. In this case the shooter appears to have been a VT student.

The Police have identified the classroom shooter as Cho Seung-Hui, 23, a senior from South Korea who was in the English department at Virginia Tech and lived in a different dorm on campus.

In situations like this, the focus of the analysis as to the adequacy of the security turns to the response time of the authorities and the steps in place to provide notice and protection to the other students on campus who remain in harms way under such an emergency. Standards do exist and each college should have a written protocol or emergency plan in place particularly if there is a history of crime on or around the campus.

There are non-profit organizations that address college campus security and college campus safety as well as federal legislation entitled the Campus Security Act, also known as the Clery Act, that requires colleges and universities across the United States to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. There are also blogs for college students parents which open up discussions for parents and students to discuss their concerns about safety at their child’s university.

At bottom, these security issues will all need to be addressed but that can happen in good time. The immediate concern needs to be the inured victims, their families and the other students and faculty on campus which must somehow face this nightmare today so they can begin the recovery process for tomorrow and each successive day after that.