Virginia Tech’s prompt reaction to the campus shooting on December 8, 2011, appears to have been nearly letter-perfect. The campus was warned and the school was locked down.
Tech’s response was a necessary and welcome change from the school’s response to the shooting on April 16, 2007, when Cho Seng-Hui murdered 32 people. At that time, the warning came far too late. In the aftermath of the 2007 shooting, Tech officials said they did not lock-down because the campus was too big and it would have created a panic. The school delayed nearly two hours in warning the campus that a killer was on the loose.
The sad irony is that December 8, 2011 proved the fallacy of the school’s excuses for its inaction on April 16, 2007.
That same big campus was locked-down on December 8, 2011, within minutes of the shooting and there was no panic. That same big campus was warned within minutes of Ross Truett Ashley’s murder of officer Deriek Crouse.
Was there panic? No.
Were lives saved? Possibly.
Were school individuals looking over their shoulders and thinking, “This time I will do the right thing. I will take every precaution. I will not repeat my mistakes.”? We will never know.
Granted the warning system at Tech is much improved, but even allowing for these improvements, the Steger administration’s delay in 2007 remains inexcusable. We can all just be thankful that no one has to make excuses for Virginia Tech’s response in 2011.