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WORKPLACE VIOLENCE NEWS (continued) Hard Lessons Learned from Campus Shootings

On April 2, 2012, One Goh, a former student at Oikos University, in Oakland, California killed seven people and wounded three others on campus. That incident happened nearly five years after the April 16, 2007, mass shooting at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). It was a sad reminder that, though rare, shootings are a threat to universities large and small, and school authorities must be prepared to handle them.

In the Virginia Tech tragedy thirty-three people were killed in the massacre, including the gunman, Seung-Hui Cho. The Virginia Tech community has been through much since that day. It has also attempted to learn important lessons to limit the chances of a similar tragedy in the future. Other campuses have taken note. Ahead is a look at some of the long-term lessons and evolving best practices for communications, sheltering in place, and threat assessment teams.

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physical escalation, and instructed him to walk away. This did not happen, and Grievant again shoved the victim on his chest with both hands. The victim never attempted to strike back at Grievant. The Grievant later explained that he felt the officer involved in the altercation was being disrespectful toward him. He also offered that he was having problems at home involving a custody battle concern- ing his son.

For purposes of initial risk assessment, the preliminary collection of statements was performed quickly; within two days following the incident, the above facts were submitted by both witness and Grievant. There was no discrepancy between the stories told by the two involved parties and the witness. By March 25, 2009, the Threat Assessment Team had met to consider the level of risk associated with Grievant’s actions, and determined that there had been no physical harm resulting

from the incident, that threat to other staff was minimal, and that the issues between Grievant and victim had been resolved. They concluded that no further violence was likely to occur following what they deemed to be an isolated incident.

The full discipline-related investigation, however, was not conducted until almost a year later, in February 2010. By April 2010, the personnel investigation was concluded, with factual findings consistent with the earlier, risk assessment review. During this second fact-gathering process, Grievant acknowledged that he had some anger issues, and demonstrated remorse for his conduct. This led to the warden’s final disciplinary decision that imposed a seven day suspension without pay, citing Grievant’s violation of workplace violence-related policy prohibitions. Following the employer’s denial of the grievance of the seven-day suspension, the matter proceeded to arbitration.

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