Virginia Tech: Lessons in Quick Response

On Thursday, Virginia Tech witnessed its second shooting in the last 5 years. In 2007, VT student Seung Hui Cho shot and killed 33 people on Virginia Tech’s campus. 4 years later, a gunman suspected to be Ross Ashley, killed a police and then himself on campus.

Such sequential violence on the Virginia Tech campus has left students feeling ill at ease regarding their safety. However, Virginia Tech has made a considerable effort to improve their communication strategies following the 2007 shooting. During the 2007 shooting it took the school two hours to send out an email to its students regarding the shooting. Thursday, it took merely seconds. The school first sent out a message saying, “Stay indoors. Secure in place”, a quick but effective alert rather than a long-winded message that would only put its students in danger. After that initial message, the school website kept up a live feed from 12:37 p.m. until the lock down was lifted at 4:31 p.m. when the school sent out a message that “law enforcement agencies have determined there is no longer an active threat or need to secure in place. Resume normal activities.”

So far, the university’s quick response in a crisis has been commendable. During the lock down, I followed the live feed and was impressed with the school’s attention to not only the news coming from law enforcement, but also from students utilizing social media across the campus, providing a comprehensive assessment from all angles of the shooting.

While Virginia Tech’s response in light of the Virginia Tech shootings has undergone many improvements, it remains to be seen whether the family, friends, students, and staff of the university will be so quick to regain trust in the safety of the Virginia Tech campus.

To view the live response during the Virginia Tech shooting, follow Virginia Tech affiliated student newspaper The Collegiate Times at @Collegiate Times.

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