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I've been listening to the pontificating about what VaTech "should have done" yesterday. Let's take them one by one.

Shooting in dorm X. The advice has been "They should have locked down the campus." First of all, how? The campus safety personnel are insufficient in volume to do so. Reasonable response? Lock down the building, verify that the perpetrator had either been apprehended or fled the scene, and then reopen the building. This is consistent with what happens in most public safety situations, both on and off campus. If there is a shooting in a neighborhood, they close down the block, not a 26,000 acre section of the city. Based on the information they had, they did nothing wrong.

Communication. "They should have notified everyone of [fill in the blank]." As of 9:27 yesterday, why? A tragic event happened in one hallway, of one floor, of one dorm, involving 3 people. If the entire campus was notified everytime there was some sort of dire or even deadly event on campus involving a couple and someone who tried to intervene there would be alerts every 47 seconds.

Communication part 2: "They should have sent text messages to all faculty and students." Riiiiiiight. For very good reasons, most professors have it as a rule that all cell phones must be off and out of sight during class, including their own. Yeah, those text messages would have helped people in class at 9 in Norris Hall. Yeah.

The same "Helicopter Parents" who will attempt to bankrupt the school are undoubtedly the same ones who want their "precious children" treated like adults, don't want Campus Safety personnel to be armed with weapons of deadly force, and decry the pressence of civil authorities on campus. Who want underage drunkenness to be excused as a right of passage, who claim their sons don't rape their classmates, and excuse their daughters from taking responsibility for irresponsible behavior. The same ones who want professors to "teach," as long as it isn't anything that challenges the parents' dogma, and wants those same professors to "award" grades, rather than assign grades based on how well the student fullfills his/her half of the learning contract.

Virginia Tech is a small city with an age demographic below the average, not some little Amish school in the middle of Pennsylvania full of minors. It was a horrible massacre. More poignant because of where it was. I wish people would get some damn perspective.


Apr. 17th, 2007 02:24 pm (UTC)
Where did this "Helicopter Parent" crap get started, anyway?

I think the thing that is going to give potential cases against the school traction is that when the convict shot the cop and ran on to campus last year, they shut down. They cleared a 100k square foot building last week over a hand-written bomb threat. Yet when there was a firearms-related killing in a dorm in the early hours of the morning, then didn't mobilize in time to stop dozens of people from being shot two hours later. Unless the school can show that they had very good reason to believe that the assailant had truly left campus, it's going to be pretty damned easy to make a case for failure to exercise due diligence.

I am not sure that I would have cancelled classes at this point. I think I would have made sure that there was a warning sent out to watch for any suspicious activity and report to the campus police by 8-8:15am. That would be the best that anyone could have done, but I'll also note that the helicopter parents would never be satisfied with that.

Do you think that distance learning will become the new fad for these people? Heh.