Virginia Tech Gunman Incident Is Not a Repeat of 2007 Tragedy

Virginia Tech gunmanReports of a gunman loose on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia are being treated by major media like a case of deja vu. In some ways, they're right. I reached out to my husband, a former student, today, just as I did on that April day in 2007 when a engineering student named Seung-Hui Cho killed 33 people, including himself. But most Hokies will tell you that today is not a repeat of April 16, 2007. Not even close.

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Because the Virginia Tech of 2011 is not the Virginia Tech of 2007. It's not a campus in the midst of closing down its spring semester teeming with a student body the size of a small city. It's a nearly dead facility, still in the midst of the slowed down summer programing, presenting a greatly reduced risk and an easier population to control. In fact the notice of a suspicious man with a gun came from three teens (ages 13 and 14) who were attending camp in Blacksburg.

But more to the point: it took two hours after Cho began shooting people on campus to warn students four years ago. Today it took less than half an hour. The students' report came in at 9:09 a.m. By 9:37 the first warning was out to people on campus that there was a possible gunman near Dietrick Dining Hall. By 10:29, the campus was locked down, with everyone advised to stay indoors until further notice. Classes have been cancelled, and anyone not already on campus has been advised to stay away.

The fact that the university was fined $55,000 for violating federal notification laws in the Cho incident certainly played a role here today, but it can't be ignored that this is an administration that is marked by the wisdom of living through a tragedy. In 2007, many in the Hokie nation forgave administration for not knowing that Cho's first victim was just the first of many. No one had ever experienced such a massive shooting rampage. No one was inside Cho's head.

It was a horrific tragedy, but like tragedies before it -- from Columbine to a blow-up in a West Virginia coal mine -- it was one that changed things for the better. It showed people just how bad it could get, and gave them the information necessary to prevent it from getting that bad again. It's protected the kids and faculty today.

The Virginia Tech community shouldn't have had to go through the experience of a gunman on campus ever. That it's happened twice is proof that nothing in life is fair (or as my father told me as a child, "fare is what you pay to get on a bus"). But the shooting in 2007 changed Virginia Tech, and it's ensured that today's horror is not the same at all.

Can you believe these people are being forced to relive this? Are you watching the goings on in Blacksburg today?

 

Image via Virginia Tech

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