First, a senior is in a res hall BY CHOICE, not by requirement. VTech didn't put him there.
Second, he gets to CHOOSE which res hall is preferred - priviledge of stature on campus.
Third, there is a little Law, FERPA - The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, that bars a university from talking with parents about such situations. A school would need persmission from the student, or the student must clearly express a threat to him/herself or others. Generally, this is defined as the words "kill" or "die" or "suicide" must be expressed verbally. I am not saying VTEch could not have done more, that side has not been expressed in the media and will not be because of FERPA and HIPAA privacy laws.
A school cannot force a student into counseling although it can remove the student from campus and require physicians release to return, even then George WAshington U recently lost a law suit over an ouster. (The student happened to enroll at U Maryland without a physician's release and ultimately graduated, then filed suit.)
If you look at the profile of the Columbine Killers and others of the recent past, this kid fits the shooter's profile. A loner, expressed dimensia. Combine that with the weak gun purchase laws in the state (same as Colorado) and it's a lethal combination.
Notably, it has occurred near the end of the term, a sign the student has given up. Similarly, he was a senior. Maybe it's the absence of a valid future that is a motivator here also. The missing component of his profile is the presence of behavior altering drugs. We are seeing a huge influx of doprd kids entering as frosh and they're not taking their meds.
My fear and that at many schools now is the copycat. The event has been re-established.(The U Texas tower shooter was the first.) The media attention is a driver. My fear, the next one is a commencement ceremony.
Could VTECH have alerted the community sooner ? Probably, particularly since the shooter was not in custody. Why did he pick an engineering building when he was an English major? That is baffling since the few individual shooting incidents of the past have targeted known faculty. Speculation is he was seeking a specific individual in the engineering department and in his mind, time was running out and just opened up on everyone there.
One aspect that is particularly disturbing, is a report that he had set a fire in a res hall a month or back. That type of incident is intolerably and mandates expulsion, but few schools will take that action thinking it extreme. Quite possibly such action may have set the fuse in his head sooner, we'll never know.
This incident is life as we know it today. Be it at a university, a shopping mall or a high school, we're saddled with this threat.