Archive for April 2007
From the Moveable Type chuck-pearson.org blog, April 24, 2007.
Pray for me.
Pray for my students.
Pray for everybody who is dealing with unacceptable, unexplainable loss – and for the next two weeks, is getting on with academic work anyway.
And pray for those people even if they aren’t at Virginia Tech.
From the Moveable Type chuck-pearson.org blog, April 18, 2007.
There’s one thing that stands out in all of the profiles of Cho Seung Hui – the fact that this was a student who was miserable, disturbed, and within himself. His writings for classes were clear hints of the damage he could do, and how little he would care about those he hurt. The faculty who taught him were quite aware that something was deeply wrong, but those who were able to muster up the sense/courage to talk to him and offer help were systematically shunned.
What the heck do you do if you’re Nikki Giovanni?
Cho (whose full name is pronounced joh sung-wee) appears first to have alarmed the noted Virginia Tech poet Nikki Giovanni in a creative writing class in fall 2005, Giovanni said.
Cho took pictures of fellow students during class and wrote about death, she said in an interview. “Kids write about murder and suicide all the time. But there was something that made all of us pay attention closely. None of us were comfortable with that,” she said.
The students once recited their poems in class. “It was like, ‘What are you trying to say here?’ It was more sinister,” she said.
Days later, seven of Giovanni’s 70 or so students showed up for a class. She asked them why the others didn’t show up and was told that they were afraid of Cho.
“Once I realized my class was scared, I knew I had to do something,” she said.
She approached Cho and told him that he needed to change the type of poems he was writing or drop her class. Giovanni said Cho declined to leave and said, “You can’t make me.”
What do you do if you’re Lucinda Roy?
Giovanni said she appealed to Roy, who then taught Cho one-on-one. Roy, 51, said in a telephone interview that she also urged Cho to seek counseling and told him that she would walk to the counseling center with him. He said he would think about it.
Roy said she warned school officials. “I was determined that people were going to take notice,” Roy said. “I felt I’d said to so many people, ‘Please, will you look at this young man?’ ”
Roy, now the alumni distinguished professor of English and co-director of the creative writing program, said university officials were responsive and sympathetic to her warnings but indicated that because Cho had made no direct threats, there was little they could do.
“I don’t want to be accusatory or blaming other people,” Roy said. “I do just want to say, though, it’s such a shame if people don’t listen very carefully and if the law constricts them so that they can’t do what is best for the student.”
What do you do if you’re a professor, you genuinely care, you want to see your student get to a healthy place in life, and you’re shut off at every turn?
Of course, it’s still early days, and there’s still a lot of journalism yet to be done and a lot of story yet to be told. But I can’t help but feel like Virginia Tech comes off looking very good here. Giovanni and Roy come off as caring, compassionate professors that you wouldn’t expect to find at a larger school. There are others who have been written about who don’t come off quite so well in the stories, but only under the influence of Cho’s strange (and, in most cases, belligerent) behavior.
He simply didn’t want to be helped. What do you do? What can you do?
This is going to be the reason another generation of kids are watched and forced into counseling or suspended from school simply for WRITING about killing or about suicide. I’m not saying that’s right. I’m saying that good people who are at wit’s end over this – and about the epidemic of senseless violence we’ve fallen into – are going to be desperate to do something.
I have no answers, only the rant.
(It occurs me that I’ve just taken a nice swath of time that was otherwise going to be used for not sounding like an idiot in class and spent it pounding out notes on the keyboard – and that has been happening more than a bit lately, first harvesting old stuff I’ve written, and now writing new stuff. I’m afraid something significant has been going on here, and – monkeys who own me aside – the theme of the writing on the front page of this blog speaks to what I’ve seen going on around me lately, and how much it concerns me.)
(UPDATE: Heh. Eric Burns was thinking a lot of the same things last night.)
From the Moveable Type chuck-pearson.org blog, April 16, 2007. Edited to fix linkrot; I can’t find a link to the Collegiate Times front page from April 17 anymore, so that link is gone. But the Collegiate Times keeps an April 16 archive, and continues to report on the fallout from the tragedy.
Dean Dad has already weighed in, and his take is worthwhile.
(UPDATE: When good work is done in bad times, it’s worth pointing it out. Virginia Tech’s student newspaper, the Collegiate Times, got quality stuff for their edition today; the obvious interest overwhelmed the paper’s website, so trying to hit up the newspaper site bounces to collegemedia.com, which is the parent publishing company for a host of campus newspapers. Check out the front page of their paper today – it’s IMPRESSIVE layout.
But the winner for a painful, brutal synopsis of the day and our feelings comes from Mike Harden, who writes for the Columbus Dispatch:
We are a bilingual people. We speak English and violence.
It’s true. It’s true.)
From the Moveable Type chuck-pearson.org blog, April 15, 2007. Honestly, this post is kind of embarrassing. However, when I get too embarrassed, I read Brant’s original again, and I laugh, and then I read the comments on that post, and then I laugh harder, and this is a part of my history and I have to own it.
Oh, and by the way, one time I finally did achieve a kick beyond the Monkey Village, of over 5000 Monkey Meters.
Brant Hansen posts, and I quote directly:
It’s not every day I get to personally beat you at something.
In bygone days, travel money and logistics would be involved. I’d have to physically come to your hometown — which reeks, by the way — in order to garner the inevitable total victory over you, your family, and all that you hold dear.
But these are heady days, thanks to technology. Just click on this link, and get outkicked by my monkey.
That’s right. My monkey will own you.
Such is your destiny, now writ: You will be owned, and – oh yes! — you will be owned by an animated monkey.
It’s not a glamorous destiny, but at least has the charm of being yours.
(HT to the now vanquished monkey of J-Caparoon.)
It’s fun, plus, it’s FREE for Kamp Krusty readers!
You know, I must confess, it IS a great deal of fun.
Especially now that our man Brant’s monkey has now, himself, been vanquished.
To quote the great Ariel Mazzarelli: Bite me, envious ones.
(UPDATE: Well, that didn’t take long – Brant has vanquished me right back, as his link clearly shows. There will be monkey smackdown now. I guarantee it.)
(UPDATE UPDATE: Well, there’s monkey smackdown, but not by me. If you dare, check out the standard that some poster on Brant’s blog by the name of EllaMinnow has set. It is, truly, impressive. If you desire a more reasonable standard, however, here’s the current DrChuck personal best.)