Statement written on behalf of 13 families of the 32 killed at Virginia Tech on April 16:
We, as family members of the Virginia Tech victims, are both angry and disappointed. We are angry about being ostracized from a government-chartered panel investigating a government-sponsored university (Virginia Tech), and about how the university has used the names and images of our loved ones to raise millions of dollars without any consultation. We have many unanswered questions. We don't speak for everyone, but in addressing these issues we are speaking to issues and outcomes that affect families across this nation. We seek accountability to make our campuses safe for all our children and their teachers, and to remember that all the victims of this act were good people doing great things - that is our focus.
We are of one mind that we must, and will, be represented by membership in the work of this panel. This is, in our minds, non-negotiable and the minimum this panel owes to us, the memories of our loved ones, and the future safety of our campuses across the Commonwealth, the nation, and the world.
We want this panel to uncover the unbiased truth about the events and decisions of April 16th which took the lives of our loved ones, the events prior, and the reactions following, as the Governor's charge at the first meeting tasked. By collecting all the facts, the panel will be able to expose the flaws in Virginia Tech's academic student conduct, procedural, and mental health actions. Through such exposure, the university will be able to identify necessary changes to handling students with severe emotional and behavioral problems. The panel needs access to all of Cho's records, including immigration and mental health records, and we strongly support use of Crime Commission subpoena power to get them. The health privacy laws must be addressed in terms of the balance between patient privacy and the safety of those patients and the public around them; we do not accept that patient privacy is (or should be) the sole overriding criterion in making records available to those charged with public safety and security of our college campuses.
Although not a focus of this meeting, we cannot let pass the point that sensible gun control measures are in no way incompatible with anyone's Constitutional rights and are at least as likely as some other recent suggestions to help prevent future tragedies of this nature. We are not advocating any particular solutions, but we are sure that having more guns more readily accessible on college campuses is not part of it.
We are very concerned about the accountability of the Hokie Spirit Fund. We expect that a university which takes the names and images of 32 victims for vast fundraising purposes will, at the very least, consult with the families on how this money is raised and how it is being disbursed. This is not only a moral but a legal duty.
Finally, we believe this goes well beyond the Commonwealth of Virginia, and that a federal commission needs to be empanelled to address the larger issues that affect all families and students across the nation