Barry Pollack Comments on University Responsibility in Colorado Shooting in Christian Science Monitor

"Colorado shooting: If a school is warned about a student, what must it do?"
Christian Science Monitor

Recent news reports state that a member of the Behavioral Evaluation and Threat Assessment (BETA) group at the University of Colorado spoke to other members about graduate student James Holmes prior to the shooting. Mr. Holmes dropped out of the University of Colorado before the BETA group could meet, but the news reports raise the question whether the group had a responsibility to alert the police about their concerns. "The university has a legal duty to protect its students, not the world at large," says Barry Pollack. "If they get information about someone who is not a student, it is not in their purview to do anything about it."

While it is likely that families of the victims will sue the university, Pollack thinks any lawsuit against the school will be very difficult to win. "Do they have a responsibility for every student after they have left the campus?" he asks. Instead, he believes that the university will settle with the families, as they did at Virginia Tech. "There was the option of getting compensation rather than suing," he says. "The vast majority of the families opted to go for compensation versus lawsuits."

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