College Campus Violence Report Raises Questions, Not Answers

Read it first at Before It’s News

by Genevieve Long for Before It’s News

Three years after the shooting tragedy at Virginia Tech, the U.S. government has issued a 40-page report on violence on college campuses in America. The report, years in the making, was a joint effort of the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was released on Friday, April 16, and can be found in its entirety online.

The report looks at violent attacks on college campuses from 1900 to 2008, putting into a few pages chilling facts about cases of premeditated murder. Most of the attacks happened in only a few states. According to a statement from the FBI in a press release about the report:

In total, 272 incidents were identified through a comprehensive search of more than 115,000 results in open-source reporting from 1900 to 2008. The incidents studied include various forms of targeted violence, ranging from domestic violence to mass murder. The findings should be useful for campus safety professionals charged with identifying, assessing, and managing violent risk at institutions of higher education.

Special note is made in the report about the role that media has increasingly played in incidents of violence. The report states:

The majority of incidents occurred during the 1990s and 2000s. It is unknown what may have caused the increase in incidents identified during the past 20 years. However, consideration should be given to the increased enrollment levels at IHEs as well as the increase in media coverage and digital reporting throughout the United States over the past few decades.

Of particular note on the role of media coverage’s role in broadcasting incidents of violence on college campuses in the report is the case of the Virginia Tech shooting. Media reports provided the federal government with numerous sources of information for the report, both subjective and objective. In the case of Virginia Tech shooting, however, no mention is made of the role that the media played in promoting the murderer after he committed the massacre of 32 innocent people. Of Cho, the report says:

On April 16, 2007, Seung Hui Cho, 23, a student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (“Virginia Tech”) in Blacksburg, Virginia, carried out what would become one of the deadliest school shootings in the world. Around 7:15 a.m., Cho fatally shot a female student in her dormitory room in West Ambler Johnston Residential Hall and then shot the building’s residential advisor. Approximately two-and-a-half hours later, Cho entered Norris Hall, a lecture building, and shot numerous students and faculty before killing himself. In total, Cho killed 32 (27 students and five faculty members) and wounded 17. Some of the wounded individuals were struck by gunfire while others were injured trying to jump from the building.

Prior to murdering, Cho recorded and mailed a video to NBC news in which he rambles on for several minutes about why he is going to kill. The video was received after Cho had killed others and himself, and NBC decided to release the video to the public. Cho’s photo and portions of the video were on every newspaper front page and television broadcast. His face and voice were everywhere, and can still be easily found online.

In addition to attention from the federal government and media from the report, advocacy for stricter gun laws is also making a strong showing on the Virginia Tech anniversary. In the state of Virginia, there are three pieces of gun legislation that advocacy groups are urging Virginia Governor McDonnell not to pass into law. Part of the reasoning is that the laws could make it easier for future attacks to occur. As reported in the Personal Liberty Digest:

The Virginia Center for Public Safety (VACPS), the Virginia Chapters of the Million Mom March, Protest Easy Guns (PEG) and the Angel Fund have issued a statement saying that signing SB 334, SB 408 and HB 1217 would violate the governor’s earlier declaration that “the foremost obligation of government is public safety.”

SB 334 would allow concealed carry permit holders to bring loaded handguns into establishments that have a liquor license in Virginia, SB 408 would allow those without concealed carry permits to keep loaded handguns in their vehicles or boats if stored in a locked container, while HB 1217 requires the Virginia Board of Education to establish a standardized program of gun safety education for students in elementary school.

For Virginia Tech’s part, they marked the three-year mark of the tragedy with a solemn cadlelight ceremony on campus and a 3.2 mile run that 6,000 students participated in, calling it a “Day of Remembrance.” As reported in the Collegiate Times:

“It’s a way that the entire community can celebrate the lives of the 32 killed,” Poole said. “It’s sustainable for the student body.”


FBI Press Release

Full Report:

Personal Liberty Digest Report:

Collegiate Times:

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