5 Years After Tech, Va. Colleges Gauge Threats

Monday, April 16, 2012

Virginia's colleges and universities have quietly investigated hundreds of students, employees and others in recent years to prevent a repeat of the Virginia Tech massacre of 2007, when a student gunman left a series of increasingly disturbing warning signs before killing 32 people and himself.

Monday marks the fifth anniversary of Seung-Hui Cho's deadly rampage, the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. A state panel investigating the killings determined that professors, students and mental-health professionals knew about Cho's troubled behavior for years but never tied all the information together -- something officials said might have prevented the slayings.

In response to the panel's findings, the General Assembly passed a law in 2008 requiring Virginia's 15 public, four-year colleges and universities to form panels with broad powers to investigate students' academic, medical and criminal records. And their findings are largely exempt from public disclosure laws.

While the law covers only public institutions, most of Virginia's private colleges also have so-called threat assessment teams in place, according to the Virginia State Crime Commission.

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