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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Virginia Tech Vindicated?

A jury in a civil case recently found Virginia Tech to have acted in a negligent and untimely manner when Cho Seung-hui started killing people on its campus back in 2007.    The Roanoke Times, as a result, promptly and conspicuously excoriated the university in an editorial for not offering up an apology to the parents and loved ones of the victims.

I wonder if that same Roanoke Times will offer an apology of its own now that Tech has been found to have acted properly in the matter.  From the office of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli:
Virginia Tech wins Clery Act appeal

Richmond (March 30, 2012) – In a decision released late yesterday, the chief administrative law judge of the U.S. Department of Education found that Virginia Tech had complied with federal law in its response to the initial April 16, 2007, shootings on campus, and as a result, he vacated the $55,000 in fines that had previously been assessed against the university by the U.S. Department of Education.

The fines had been imposed under the federal Clery Act, which imposes certain conditions on colleges and universities, including requiring them to issue timely warnings to their campuses when certain crimes are committed on campus and certain other conditions are met. The judge found yesterday that the act applied to the initial shootings of two students at Virginia Tech on April 16, but also found that the campus-wide e-mails issued by Virginia Tech’s emergency policy group were sent in a timely manner and met the act’s warning requirements.

“While we will always mourn for those who lost their lives on that terrible day in 2007, we are pleased the judge recognized that Virginia Tech's response fully complied with the law,” said Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, whose office argued the appeal for the school. “We have maintained from the beginning that Virginia Tech’s notification to the campus community met all of requirements of the Clery Act, and we are glad the judge agreed. For us, this appeal was not about the fines as much as it was about the arbitrary way the U.S. Department of Education tried to apply the law against a school that responded reasonably while an unforeseen and unprecedented crime was occurring on campus.”

The judge's decision can be found here.
So a jury - after having listened to heartbreaking stories from parents offered as testimony in a trial having to do with technical matters relating to Virginia Tech's response time - finds the university negligent. And awards the loved ones a boatload of money.

And a trial in which those same technicalities were litigated - minus the anguished renderings from loved ones - found VT to have acted properly.

From the judge in the latter case:

"Administrative Judge Ernest Canellos determined that university actions on the morning of April 16, 2007, after the shootings in Ambler Johnston residence hall, satisfied the requirements of the “timely warning” provision of the Clery Act. 'This was not an unreasonable amount of time in which to issue a warning. …. if the later shootings at Norris Hall had not occurred, it is doubtful that the timing of the email would have been perceived as too late.' said Canellos."

Is there an apology due someone here? I don't see it.