The US Department of Education has imposed a fine of $55000 on Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) for its failure to issue timely warnings after the initial shootings at a residence hall in 2007, which escalated into one of the deadliest massacres ever, claiming 32 lives and leaving many others wounded.
The Department also says that Virginia Tech's violations warrant penalties far in excess of what is permissible under current statutes.
On the morning of April 16, 2007 Seung Hui Cho killed two fellow students inside the WAJ campus residence hall; this occurred shortly after seven in the morning whereas the first alert from the authorities came around 9:30 am. This notification too did not specify that an armed killer was still at large or that a murder had been committed. It was only at 9:50 am that the university sent out a severe warning by phone, email and on the public announcement system. During this time, Cho went on to shoot dozens of people before committing suicide himself.
According to the letter served by the Department, a tragedy of this scale could have been prevented if the university had sent an appropriate timely notification to all on campus, as more people could have acted on that and taken steps to ensure their personal security.
Because Virginia Tech failed to notify its students and staff of the initial shootings on a timely basis, thousands continued to travel on campus, without a warning of the events at WAJ, the letter said.
The University meanwhile has clarified that they will appeal against the fine.