The U.S. Department of Education (ED) found that Virginia Tech broke federal campus security laws by waiting too long to notify students during the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history, reports the Associated Press. Virginia Tech disputed the department’s findings, saying university officials met standards in effect at the time of the shootings three years ago and that the report is colored by “hindsight bias.” It argues that the government is trying to retroactively apply regulations that were added two years after the shooting. ED’s May 18 report is the latest to criticize the school’s response to the killings of 33 people, including the student gunman, on April 16, 2007. The school could be fined up to $55,000 for two violations alleged in the preliminary report, but no one will face criminal charges, according to the university official who drafted the response. Federal officials will consider the response from the school before they finalize their conclusion. ED’s report said Va. Tech violated the Clery Act’s requirement that universities offer a timely warning when possible danger arises. About two hours elapsed between the shootings of two students at a dormitory and an eMail alert to the campus, sent at 9:26 a.m. The delay was previously criticized in a state report and has drawn the ire of victims’ families. ED said the warnings “were not prepared or disseminated in a manner to give clear and timely notice of the threat to the health and safety of campus community members.” The university countered that before the shootings at its Blacksburg campus, federal officials had never defined what “timely” meant in the Clery Act……Read More
Questions about how universities handle tenure decisions have arisen after Amy Bishop, a professor at the University of Alabama Huntsville campus, was accused of killing three colleagues from the university’s biology department earlier this month.
Bishop reportedly was denied tenure—a distinction that ensures job security in academia—and complained about the university’s decision for months before the shootings, colleagues said in interviews with the Associated Press (AP).
Higher-ed administrators say the tedious six-year tenure process can be fraught with anxiety, and if candidates expect to earn tenure and are denied by campus officials, reactions can be unpredictable.…Read More
Nearly an hour passed before University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) officials dispatched emergency notification to students and faculty after fatal shootings allegedly committed by a professor, raising new questions about campus-based alert systems.
University President David Williams sent an eMail to faculty and students Feb. 15—three days after the shootings that killed three people and injured three others—and said campus police responded to the gunfire within minutes, but the university community was not alerted via text message or eMail.
“… Some of you are understandably troubled about the speed with which a text message alert was sent following the shootings,” Williams said in his open letter to UAH students and faculty. “As any institution would do after an incident like this, our university will conduct a complete examination of the emergency response. How to more effectively use the university’s text message system in the midst of a fast-moving, life-threatening situation will certainly be part of that review.”…Read More