I saw a news article from the Washington Post today about Virginia Tech’s plan to distribute $7.5 million to the families of the students killed in the shooting earlier this year, as well as to injured students. My first reaction was that it seemed a heartless gesture. How can any amount of money equal a human life? Then I read that this is happening largely because the families themselves requested it. At that point my reaction changed to disgust and bewilderment. How could a victim’s family turn their loved one’s death into an opportunity to improve their financial situation?
Here’s a link to the article:
One of the families’ attorneys was quoted as saying that his clients deserve “at least what the 9-11 people got.” What is this, a new government program? Yes, I realize that a tragedy has happened. Tragedies happen to people all the time. It’s called life. It sucks. I know. But I’m sorry; it doesn’t automatically entitle you to government handouts. Maybe it is the fault of the VT administration. However, it seems to me that by siphoning this money off into the hands of victim’s families, we are depriving the university of money it might need to fix the problems that allowed the shooting to happen in the first place. The rest of the students are not safer. The scholarships that were going to be created won’t be, and students who might have used the money to get an education will be stuck paying back huge loans.
It’s a hard situation; I concede that. And I’m sorry I have to take the hard line, but this whole thing reeks of selfishness on the part of the victim’s families. Certainly, they should be cared for. Insurance should cover medical costs for the survivors. Churches and other organizations should step up and offer all support possible for the people affected by this event. But demanding $180,000 from the school for losing a family member? It just seems materialistic and shallow.