[Milton-L] Fwd: [English-L] cnn.com: "Professor to classmates: 'Don't feel guilty'"

Julia Walker walker at geneseo.edu
Thu Apr 19 14:27:57 EDT 2007


this is making the rounds among my colleagues and i thought some of  
you might find it interesting.

julia

> http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/04/18/vatech.professor/index.html
> Cho's professor to classmates: Don't feel guilty
> POSTED: 4:10 p.m. EDT, April 18, 2007
>
> By Jonathan Mandell
> (CNN) -- Edward Falco is aware not just of the shock and mourning that
> have descended upon the campus of Virginia Tech, but he is also  
> aware of
> the guilt and second-guessing afflicting students and faculty.
>
> Falco was the playwriting professor of Cho Seung-Hui, an English  
> major who
> police say killed at least 30 people on the campus before committing
> suicide.
>
> It was in Falco's class that Cho wrote the two plays, "Mr.  
> Brownstone" and
> "Richard McBeef," each full of violence and profane rants that his
> classmates found disturbing. (Cho's plays included murderous dreams)
>
> "As you can imagine, all of us who crossed paths with Cho in any  
> manner
> are wrestling with this tragedy on multiple levels," Falco, a poet and
> novelist, wrote to CNN.com in an e-mail.
>
> "My students are my first priority and I spent a lot of time yesterday
> doing everything I could to be of help to them. I was particularly
> concerned about the playwriting class I had with Cho. Some of those
> students had contacted me and expressed a sense of guilt at not having
> done something or said something that might have prevented this  
> horror."
>
> That is why Falco sent an e-mail to the class list of 22 students  
> telling
> them it was not their fault.
>
> "Cho's behavior was disturbing to all of us -- and the English  
> Department
> tried, with the best of intentions, to both get him help and to  
> make the
> appropriate authorities aware of his disturbing behavior," Falco  
> wrote to
> his students. "We did all that we thought it was reasonable to do.  
> (Watch
> a professor explain how Cho made other students uncomfortable  )
>
> "There was violence in Cho's writing -- but there is a huge difference
> between writing about violence and behaving violently. We could not  
> have
> known what he would do. We treated him like a fellow student, which is
> what he was. I believe the English Department behaved responsibly in
> response to him. And please hear me when I say this: it was our
> responsibility, not yours. All you could have done was come to me,  
> or some
> other administration or faculty member, with your concerns -- and you
> would have been told that we were aware of Seung Cho, we were  
> concerned
> about him, and we were doing what we believed was appropriate.
>
> "Look, all our hearts are broken. There's no need to add to the  
> pain with
> guilt."
>
> Nikki Giovanni, a well-known poet who was also one of Cho's teachers,
> found his writing so "weird" and "intimidating" that she had him  
> removed
> from her class in the fall of 2005. But Falco tried a different  
> approach.
> Asked why he thought Cho became an English major, Falco offered  
> what he
> called a guess.
>
> "The kid couldn't speak. I did everything I knew to draw him out. I  
> tried
> to joke with him. I touched his shoulder while asking him a direct
> question. I put myself in quiet, one-on-one space with him -- and I  
> still
> could not get articulate speech out of him. (Watch how the cause of  
> Cho's
> rage could have been physical )
>
> "Yet, in writing he could communicate. You've seen the plays.  
> They're not
> good writing. But they are at least a form of communication. And in  
> his
> responses to the other students' plays, he could be quite  
> articulate. If
> writing is the only way you can communicate with the wider world,  
> then I
> guess being an English major makes sense."
>
>
> -- 
> Beth A. McCoy
> Associate Professor, English
> SUNY Geneseo
> 1 College Circle
> Geneseo, NY 14454
> w: 585 245 5273
> fax:  585 245 5181
> email:  mccoy at geneseo.edu
>
>
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