Wednesday, April 18, 2007

They were afraid of Cho

One of AOL's employees is a Va Tech graduate and a former classmate of Cho Seung-Hui. Cho's classmates knew he was capable of this. They were afraid of him.
A major part of the playwriting class was peer reviews. We would write one-act plays and submit them to an online repository called Blackboard for everyone in the class to read and comment about in class the next day. Typically, the students give their opinions about the plays and suggest ways to make it better, the professor gives his insights, then asks the author to comment about the play in class.

When we read Cho's plays, it was like something out of a nightmare. The plays had really twisted, macabre violence that used weapons I wouldn't have even thought of. Before Cho got to class that day, we students were talking to each other with serious worry about whether he could be a school shooter. I was even thinking of scenarios of what I would do in case he did come in with a gun, I was that freaked out about him. When the students gave reviews of his play in class, we were very careful with our words in case he decided to snap. Even the professor didn't pressure him to give closing comments.
Maybe there's nothing that can be done about such a person, but how can a class function if the class is afraid of one of the students? How can a teacher mark a student's papers when he's afraid of the student, afraid the student might "snap"?

I don't think there are easy answers, but I'd like to think a college/school could demand a student get counseling in such situations. That might not have helped anyway, unfortunately.

UPDATE 2:15: You know, I think the college could have, no, should have notified this guy's family that they were worried about him given what he'd been writing. And, once the police were notified that this guy's teachers were worried about him you'd like to think that his name would be added to a database of those for whom gun purchases should be a no-no. That's another post.