As more and more details come to light concerning the April 16, 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech, the clearer it becomes that university President Steger failed miserably in his leadership responsibilities. If Governor Kaine will not take the lead in removing Steger, then Steger himself should do the honorable thing and resign or retire.
The sad truth is that President Steger fiddled for more than two hours after the initial shooting. He failed in his responsibilities to alert the campus—this lack of action played a role in the deaths of 30 students and professors at Norris Hall. There is no way to sugar-coat the harsh reality of Steger’s inaction. The university president must take some degree of responsibility for his failure to show leadership. His failure to act—to alert the campus, to close the campus down—doomed 30 people.
While Steger procrastinated, Cho prepared for his bloodbath at Norris Hall. While Steger waffled, others showed leadership—the school’s College of Veterinary Medicine locked-down. While Steger vacillated, others recognized the seriousness of the threat—the school’s Continuing Professional Education Center shut and locked its doors. While Steger fretted over what to do, others took the initiative—members of the University’s Policy Group were warning their family members about the shooting.
Unfortunately, President Steger showed himself to be woefully lacking in leadership skills on April 16, 2007—a man either unwilling or unable to make a fairly straight-forward—obvious—decision when confronted with two brutal murders. President Steger may be a good fundraiser, but his indecisiveness, poor judgment, and lack of backbone on that fateful day clearly demonstrate why he should not be in a position of authority; why he should not be the President of Virginia Tech University.
Charles W. Steger, do not compound your sins of inaction by continuing in office, do the honorable thing and leave. Your departure will not bring anyone back, but at least it will be a step forward in helping the families of the victims move ahead with their lives.