ERIC Number: EJ782169
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Reference Count: N/A
Connecting the Dots: Lessons from the Virginia Tech Shootings
Davies, Gordon K.
Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, v40 n1 p8-15 Jan-Feb 2008
The shootings that took place last spring on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, located in Blacksburg, Virginia, elicited a host of reactions, many deeply emotional. In groups of college and university presidents, the response was generally empathetic. Indeed, they were right to be put on alert by the random and unpredictable nature of a disaster like the loss of 33 lives at this large and generally peaceful landgrant university. In the days following the mass killings, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine quickly established a panel to investigate the events leading up to that day, the incidents themselves, and their immediate aftermath. The author was among the eight members of the panel, which was chaired by Col. Gerald Massengill, former Superintendent of the Virginia State Police. Some of what the panel ultimately reported to Governor Kaine pertains primarily to Virginia and to the university. Many of its recommendations are relevant to all 50 states and to most of the approximately 4,000 colleges and universities in the nation. This article discusses the panel's findings and offers seven crucial lessons learned from the tragedy: (1) States should provide sufficient outpatient mental-health services; (2) States should comply with the Federal Gun Control Act; (3) Congress and the state legislatures should review federal and state privacy laws, and universities should know what they do and do not permit; (4) Colleges and universities should communicate, both within themselves and beyond; (5) Write a plan that fits; (6) Make formal arrangements, and practice; and (7) Develop a way to access students' mental-health records.
Descriptors: Health Services, Police, Gun Control, School Security, Violence, Privacy, Mental Health, Student Records
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Virginia