Revisit Current Laws and Regulations
By Walter Olson
The Manhattan Institute
According to ABC News, writing professor Lucinda Roy was one who got a close look at the future killer's disturbed personality: "She said she notified authorities about Cho, but said she was told that there would be too many legal hurdles to intervene."
What were those legal hurdles? Were I in Congress, I'd want to know. Did any of them arise from the Buckley Amendment, which forbids universities from sharing many sorts of information about students, even with the students' own families? In a publicized recent case, a Pennsylvania college came under fire after a 20-year-old student confided in counselors about his state of psychological desperation, and then went on to commit suicide. The parents sued, saying they might have helped prevent his death had they been told about the warning signs, but the college prevailed: the federal rules did not authorize it to contact the family until matters had reached an "emergency".
Or was the problem other well-meaning laws aimed at advancing due process and other fine goals? Did the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the medical privacy law, work to ensure that those who knew of Cho's medico-psychiatric history would never compare notes with those trying to assess the seriousness of his reported stalking behavior?
Perhaps the answers lie elsewhere. But as pressure groups seek to heap new regulations and legal burdens on universities, let's not forget to revisit the ones already there.
Walter Olson is senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and runs Overlawyered.com.
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