The United States Department of Education intends to fine Virginia Tech $55,000 for violations related to federal campus-crime reporting law regarding the tragic shootings that took place on April 16, 2007. The Department of Education accused Virginia Tech of not issuing “timely warnings”, a violation of the Clery Act, during the violence taking place on campus, and plans to issue the maximum fine of $27,500 for each violation.
April 16th, 2007, Virginia Tech senior Seung-Hui Cho went on a shooting rampage on Virginia Tech’s campus. At 7:15am, Cho fatally shot two students in a residence hall. He then entered an academic building and began shooting at students and faculty members. Before the ordeal was over, Cho killed 33 people before taking his own life.
The intention to fine Virginia Tech was announced in a written letter to university president Charles W. Steger on Tuesday March 29 2011. The eight page letter accused Virginia Tech of responding too slowly in alerting campus of the emergency. The Department of Education estimated that fewer deaths may have occurred if the response by Virginia Tech was more immediate.
Shootings began at 7:15am, with Virginia Tech issuing the first email warning at 9:26am without mentioning the gunman was still on campus, or that murders had already been committed. A second notification was issued at 9:50am, through email, phone and campus loudspeaker. The Department of Education’s complaint concerns the issue that it took over two hours for Virginia Tech to release an emergency warning fit for the tragedy that was taking place.
Virginia Tech announced their intention to appeal the fines. Associate vice president for university relation, Larry Hinkler, spoke on the matter by saying “We believe that Virginia Tech administrators acted appropriately in their response to the tragic events of April, 16, 2007, based on the best information then available to them at the time.” He also referenced a private investigation performed by campus crime expert Dolores A. Stafford in which she concluded Virginia Tech’s response met current standards.