John on August 30, 2007 at 3:09 pm
The morning the massacre happened I was very quick to jump on President Steger’s slow-witted response to the first shooting. But in the wake of the tragedy there were many who simply wanted to rally around the campus, including President Steger.
A report has now been released by an eight member commission assembled by the Govenor of Virginia to examine the matter. The report concludes that a warning could have made a difference:
“Warning the students, faculty and staff might have made a difference,” the panel in its report. “The earlier and clearer the warning, the more chance an individual had of surviving.”
At least one relative of a slain student is calling for Steger — as the individual responsible for the failure to notify students — to be fired. Steger’s pathetic response is that no one could have known what was about to happen. Yes, that’s true. That’s always true. Using that reasoning, no one should ever be held accountable for failure of any kind.
However on the morning of April 16th, you did know several things:
- There had been a double homicide in a dormitory
- The perpetrator was on the loose and presumably armed and still dangerous
- Most students heading to morning classes knew little or nothing of the incident.
That’s enough, in my mind, to warrant an alert to the campus if not an outright shut down. Failure to do so is in part responsible for the great loss of life that morning.
And yet, for whatever reason, Governor Kaine is declining to fire Steger. That’s truly pathetic. Were I there, I would loudly boo the President’s every public appearance, formal or informal. I encourage Tech students to make it a habit. He should be run out of town for his costly incompetence.
One of the surviving relatives sums it up nicely:
“Had some or all of the student body been notified that 2 students were gunned down that morning, they may have had heightened sensitivity to the sound of gunshots and other suspicious activity,” Strollo wrote in an e-mail to the AP. “One or two minutes of notice may have been critical in saving more lives in Norris Hall.”
In fact we know that some of the survivors took their few seconds of warning to escape through windows or barricade doors. Had they simply been on alert for trouble that morning I believe many more would have escaped Cho’s rampage.
There is at least one unanswered question that still remains in my mind. During Steger’s first press conference he confirmed that there had been a bomb threat the previous Friday (the 13th). Bomb threats were apparently also found on Cho’s body after his death. Was the Friday threat made by Cho? I suspect it was but I haven’t read anything confirming or denying it.