Tag Archives: virginia tech

VT Massacre: Six years later and still not much change

Tues. April 16 is a day that will live in infamy in the New River Valley, especially among the Blacksburg and Virginia Tech community. On this day six years ago, Seung–Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people on the Virginia Tech campus during their morning classes.

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Students morn the loss of their classmates. Photo from Creative Commons.

Cho’s weapon of choice was a semi-automatic pistol (Glock 19) and a handgun (Walter P22) which are both easily accessible on the Internet. Amazon and other “sell it yourself sites” are one of the easiest sites to buy from. With just a click of your mouse, credit card and your search engine, you can have a gun delivered to your home within the next three to five business days. Continue reading VT Massacre: Six years later and still not much change

From our perspective: Are you proud to be a Highlander?

Three weeks ago, when I first stepped on campus as a Radford University scholar, I saw red. Walking from building to building, it was impossible to avoid seeing dozens of people plastered in everything from RU hats to Highlander pajamas. Honestly, I didn’t get it.

Wearing an RU shirt on campus seemed redundant and silly, like wearing a band’s shirt to one of their concerts. So I asked a few people, “Why wear a Radford shirt here? Out of all options available to you, this is the school you chose. Doesn’t that speak for itself?” People looked at me like I was crazy, but few could give me more than a shrug for an answer. Arguably, I ‘won’ those discussions, but I was still wrong. The answer was school pride. Continue reading From our perspective: Are you proud to be a Highlander?

Jury finds Virginia Tech negligent in the timely alert of students in April 16, 2007 shootings

After an eight-day trial, the jury in the Peterson/Pryde v. Commonwealth of Virginia trial ruled in favor of the Peterson and Pryde families, awarding each family $4 million.

Both families lost a daughter in the April 16, 2007 shootings and they were suing for negligence. They felt that Virginia Tech did not take the correct precautions in alerting students of the gunman on campus and his whereabouts. They felt that had the correct steps to ensure the safety of the students been taken, the lives of their daughters could have been saved.

Continue reading Jury finds Virginia Tech negligent in the timely alert of students in April 16, 2007 shootings

Student alerts get technical

After the April 16 Virginia Tech shootings that left 33 dead and 25 wounded, many universities have amped up their emergency alert notification systems.

A Sept. 2007 case study conducted by the National Association of Attorney Generals on the Virginia Tech April 16 shootings brought up many prevention and response-related issues, which in turn sparked a revision of emergency plans and the implementation of crisis communication systems.

Virginia Tech began updating in the fall of 2006 and were in the last stages of vendor selections when the shootings took place.

There are many forms of emergency notification systems used on Virginia campuses today. Radford University is one of the many schools that have increased their alert notification systems. Currently RU has nine ways students can be notified in the event of any form of emergency.

  • RU Alert notification
  • Campus IP Telephone Reverse Announcement System
  • RU Active Crawl Computer Messaging
  • Campus Siren and Verbal Notification System
  • Campus Signage System
  • Campus Cable Television Interrupt System
  • RU Website
  • WVRU Public Radio
  • Facebook

Many of these are used whether it is an emergency that is a threat to the campus or in the event of an extreme emergency. Multiple communication systems help inform, educate and ease rumors should there be an emergency.

Media tools such as newspapers, social networks, television and radio are a quick way to release information into each college community. This is similar to the nationwide Amber Alert system.

“These technologies are a great asset to emergency management by allowing for timely notifications of all persons signed up and save us time and resources,” said Radford University Office of Emergency Preparedness Emergency Coordinator Todd Branscome.

Virginia Tech’s emergency notification alert systems have many similarities to RU’s. In the event of an emergency, the primary aspect is to protect and inform the faculty, staff and student body.

Each university is equipped with a set of Emergency Notification System Protocols, which are designed to give emergency personnel guidelines to the lowest level of decision makers possible.

Emergency phone keypad on Radford's campus. Photo by Brian Hollingsworth.

These emergency alert systems can let both commuters and residents know if there is an emergency before arriving on university property. They can contact the entire student body and faculty.

There is always a fear that technology may fail when it is needed most. Even though there has been extensive research and many hours have been put into each of these systems, nothing is flawless.

“I think it’s a good thing to have when they work correctly,” said senior Rebecca Hallett. “Sometimes I’ll get the texts from them but it will only be half the message … but overall I think it’s a good way to let the students of Radford know when something is wrong, or if there’s a school closing.”

Implementing new technology varies between campuses within the testing and configuring stages. After measures are taken to alter these systems to the particular needs of a specific campus, they are launched to distribute timely and accurate information.

Will this abundance of notification systems increase anxiety within the university’s student body?

“No. As a community we have a keen desire for information,” said Virginia Tech Director of Emergency Management Michael Mulhare. “We do not use them for events, only…in event of emergency. The challenge is to get the message into 140 characters.”

This desire for information is a main characteristic in daily life on a college campus and is tagged with a price that varies throughout each university.

The cost of notification systems can be determined by many features, such as user fees and yearly costs with advancement of technology.

Virginia Tech has spent a substantial amount on this technology. With technology constantly changing, there are always new things springing up. They are working on a possible future application for smartphones, as well as voice-over technology that will allow students to hear what is occurring in the event of an emergency.

Social media is a rapidly developing source of communication in which many universities are looking to distribute information via social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and other websites that are available to anyone who may or may not be linked to that university.

Many universities such as Virginia Tech encourage parents to stay informed about what is occurring on campus by encouraging parents to download VT Desktop Alerts.

According to a Nov. 2009 study done by the TriData Division of the System Planning Corporation of Arlington, many problems stood between Virginia Tech and a resolution on April 16.

Ultimately the hardest thing to do that day was to ensure that every person was safe. That resulted in new emergency alert technology, as well as future advancement that will continue to improve to protect people on college campuses.

Pro-gun advocates might visit RU campus

Pro-gun advocates from the Virginia Citizens Defense League are planning to speak at several universities next month to promote the legal carrying of concealed weapons on campus, according to the organization’s website. Campuses they plan to visit include James Madison University, Virginia Tech and Radford University.

Virginia Citizens Defense League. Photo by Creative Commons.

VCDL is a non-profit, grassroots organization that was formed in Northern Virginia in October 1994. The organization encourages our constitutional right to bear arms, as stated in the Second Amendment.

Their campaign, Operation Campus Safety, will discourage the banning of firearms in places such as parks, public businesses and college campuses.

While a ban is intended to promote safety among the students and faculty, VCDL believes that any citizen with a license to carry a concealed weapon should be allowed to exercise their right to defend themselves anywhere.

According to a press release from VCDL President Philip Van Cleave, the plans for the campaign are to target campus funds. The statement encourages alumni, parents and students to refuse any donations to a campus that does not allow concealed carry on premises.

“When a university or college asks for money, tell them: No guns? No funds!” Van Cleave said.

Van Cleave used the April 16 Virginia Tech shootings as an example, faulting the campus gun bans for leaving the victims unprotected.

“Just one armed permit holder in one of those classrooms under attack at Virginia Tech on that fateful day in 2007 could have stopped Cho,” he said.

VCDL will advocate at Virginia Tech on Nov. 17. The group is hosted by Libertarians at Virginia Tech and the event will take place from 11:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. This is before the last home football game of the season for the Hokies, so advocates will present to both students and visitors in town for the game.

The Defender, VCDL's newsletter. Photo by Creative Commons.

Reaction from Radford University students has been mixed. Many students feel negatively about the idea, saying that the dangers of guns on campus far outweigh any positives that are proposed.

Student Kimberly Gerard immediately shook her head when she heard the idea.

“People are just too irresponsible,” she said.

Elizabeth Dreher believes that local violence is already out of control.

“Two people were jumped outside of Madison [Hall] at 3 in the morning,” Dreher said. “If people were allowed to carry guns, it would just make things worse.”

“It’s too easy to lose your temper,” Laura Strickland said in agreement. “We don’t want too many people out there with guns. It just creates too much opportunity.”

A few students did acknowledge the positive side of carrying concealed weapons, within legal reasoning.

“If someone is able to go through the legal system to carry a concealed weapon, then they are responsible enough to carry it,” said Evan Walters.

Another student who wishes to remain anonymous agreed with the proposal, claiming his Constitutional rights. “You should be able to carry them anywhere!” he said.

Many of these students have a strong belief about this issue, but there are a few who are still on the fence.

Radford University has not yet scheduled an event for VCDL. According to the press release, campus visits will be announced on VA ALERT one week prior to the event.

Bottom line, our food should be better

The food in Dalton Dining Hall is terrible — I’m just going to come out and say it. The quality is bad, most of it could barely pass as healthy, and there’s no reason for it to be so terrible.

Students all over Virginia can go to their campus dining hall and enjoy tasty, high-quality food, but not at Radford University. The food is overseasoned, overcooked, greasy, bland and frankly, it’s unfair to students. We should want to eat at our dining hall since it has the most options. It’s supposed to be the biggest bang for your buck, but all you really get out of it is an upset stomach.

Dalton Dash? Photo by Brian Hollingsworth.

According to a food service employee, the food served in Dalton is the same food that is served in Muse’s dining hall, but the food at Muse is so much better. The staff at Muse who cook it take superior care of the food because they actually take the time to cook it right. This is how every dining hall experience should be.

Personally, I think Virginia Tech’s dining halls are all of the same quality and that they have better quality food compared to Dalton. I think we should have continuity in the quality of what we eat, and I think the university should take more pride and care in what they feed us.

I left high school behind a long time ago, so why must I revisit the food? I try to eat in the dining hall a few times a week because it keeps me in my food budget, but this semester alone has really turned me off to eating in the dining hall. Honestly, the quality of the food on Wendy’s dollar menu is better than that of Dalton’s. Muse’s food is so superior, yet it isn’t open as many days a week.

Keep it clean, Dalton. Photo by Brian Hollingsworth.

I understand that it could potentially cost the university more money to better the quality of Dalton’s food, but what are students paying for? I think that if the food got better students would be willing to pay a little extra when they visit the dining hall because they would be happier. I also understand that it would take some work on the university’s part to train the dining hall employees to cook better and care more, but again I think it would be worth it. Dalton would be a more pleasant environment if people didn’t groan as they ate.

Another plus? There would be much less food wasted if the quality of food went up. Students order food that they end up disliking and it gets thrown out. If students liked the food better, they would actually consume it instead of immediately throwing it away.

The final plus would be better general health of students. Because the healthier foods in Dalton are generally cooked badly and turn out bland, students opt for the less healthy options like fries and chicken patties. If the peas at Dalton tasted like the peas at Muse, they would actually get eaten.

The bottom line is, Virginia Tech and Muse Hall serve better food than Dalton. Why is that acceptable?

Radford University raises athletic fees

Photo by Tim Cowie and Radford Athletics
RU’s Men’s Basketball game, Photo From Radford Athletics Website

It might come as a surprise to some that Radford University has been charging their students a mandatory athletics fee in their tuition. Radford University is charging their students $1,077 this year for a mandatory athletics fee. However, the students will also be able to get into sporting events for free or for a fairly reduced price because of this fee.

Kali Nason, a senior at RU, does not agree with the fact that an athletics fee is tacked on to her tuition.