CU oks mental health checks after violent threats

August 1, 2007

University of Colorado students or staff who make violent threats could be required to undergo a mental-health screening under a new school policy.



The new rule, announced Tuesday, was drafted after the April 16 massacre at Virginia Tech that left 32 victims and the gunman dead.



University officials also cited the separate arrests of three students at the Boulder campus for threats or implied threats in the days following the Virginia Tech shootings.



“The administration felt that there were enough incidents to visit the issues of violence and really get ahead of this,” university spokesman Bronson Hilliard told the Camera newspaper in Wednesday’s editions.



The new policy says Boulder campus officials “may refer individuals accused of making threats of violence for an assessment of the likelihood that they will act on a threat of violence.”



It was written by campus Police Chief Joe Roy and approved by Chancellor Bud Peterson.



The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a free-speech watchdog group, said the policy could make people hesitant to speak freely despite First Amendment protections.



Hilliard said the policy was meant to keep the campus safe while protecting free-speech rights.

“It really addresses conduct more than speech,” he said.



Ryan Biehle, a junior and chief of staff for the university’s student government, said Boulder campus students are concerned about the possibility of violence on the scale of the Virginia Tech shootings.



“That would be a good way to start attacking the problem,” Biehle said of the new policy. “I don’t really think that you can be too cautious.”

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Schools: University of Colorado at Boulder