Who Should Be Held Accountable for the Virginia Tech Tragedy? Try Seung-Hui Cho

In the aftermath of the official state report dissecting the Virginia Tech massacre, bereaved parents of killing victims are calling for the resignation of Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger. I can fully understand Gwaltney’s grief and desire for accountability. But there was one person — and one person only — who bears responsibility for the events of April 16, and that is Seung-Hui Cho.

The state report presented no evidence that anyone at Virginia Tech, or anywhere else, acted with incompetence or negligence. The report presented no evidence that Virginia Tech had failed to put into place safeguards that were commonly accepted at other universities. Although the report said Virginia Tech officials conceivably could have saved lives if they had acted differently (with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight), it is clearer than ever that the failure, like that of 9/11, was the incapacity of an entire system to contemplate and prepare for the inconceivable.

Virginia and the United States now have been forewarned. The failures of the system, especially of the mental health system, and devilish trade-offs involving the privacy of mental health patients, have been dissected and laid bare. If lawmakers fail to respond effectively, the bereaved parents will have someone to hold accountable. Fortunately, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine appears to be approaching the tragedy with a sober and thoughtful attitude. I, for one, am confident that appropriate measures will be taken.

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3 responses to “Who Should Be Held Accountable for the Virginia Tech Tragedy? Try Seung-Hui Cho”

  1. Barnie Day Avatar
    Barnie Day

    Jim, I couldn’t agree more. I sent this note to Steger:

    Dear Charlie:

    Throw off the burdens of Job that have been laid upon you. These reports are necessary things–they have diverse and multiple constituents–but the fact remains that the responsible party in this one killed himself. Be firm and calm and resolute in your endeavors. Lead us forward. Best. BKD

  2. rodger provo Avatar
    rodger provo

    Jim, I agree with Barnie Day.

    Government, public policy and
    society failed Virginia Tech
    and those who lost their lives
    or were wounded earlier this

    Virginia needs to be a model for
    the country to find a means
    to better help those in need
    such as the Virginia Tech shooter and
    to insure the criminal justice and mental
    health care system better
    protect the public from such awful

  3. I know that I’m coming from a completely different perspective, but I disagree with your opinion. I do believe that there are individuals at Va Tech who were negligent. I think negligence can be seen not only on April 16th, but also earlier in Cho’s time at Va Tech.

    I will be honest, I have not be able to read the full report, but what I have read shows to me that there are people charged with the responsibility of caring for others, including their safety, and some of those people failed at their jobs on April 16th.

    As far as 4/16 is concerned, I think that Cho was at a point where he would have attempted an event no matter how Va Tech officials/police responded. But, I also think that if the people responsible for the students’ safety had acted appropriately then my brother would have been alive at the end of the day on April 16th.

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