Virginia Tech may face federal fines and a loss of student aid for failing to warn the campus quickly enough about a gunman on the loose before the shooting rampage that killed 30 people April 16, 2007, the Department of Education said yesterday, reports USA Today. The Education Department told university president Charles Steger that the school violated the Jeanne Clery Act, a federal law requiring schools to give “timely warnings” about safety threats on campus.
Punishments could include fines or revoking eligibility for federal student aid. More than a third of Virginia Tech students receive such aid. Virginia Tech disputes the findings and will appeal. School administrators “acted appropriately” based on the information they had at the time, spokesman Larry Hincker said. The Clery act does not define “timely,” he said. “It appears that timely warning is whatever the Department of Education decides after the fact,” Hincker said. “We provided to the department numerous examples of assaults, shootings, stabbings and murders on other university campuses in which their campus notifications far exceeded in time our April 16 notice.” Virginia Tech e-mailed a warning at 9:26 a.m. April 16, two hours and two minutes after police arrived at a dorm where two students had been shot.