I haven’t written about the events at Virginia Tech. Coverage has been ubiquitous at my house — my husband writes about crime, after all. It occurred to me some time after the horrible events on Monday that Nikki Giovanni was a professor at VT. I love Nikki Giovanni’s poetry and was honored to have the chance to meet her and talk with her for a few moments back in 1998. She was incredibly nice and signed books for my daughter and for me. It occurred to me to wonder if the murderer — an English major — had the occasion to run across Giovanni in his studies. After all, I studied at UGA, and while I was never in her class, I sometimes passed Judith Ortiz Cofer in the hall (and tried to hide the fact that every time I did it, I shook with nervousness over being in such close proximity to a writer I admired). One of the teachers at school today mentioned Giovanni had indeed taught Cho Seung-hui and demanded that he be removed from her class. I’m trying to understand, with all the information coming to light about the warning signs that this young man was disturbed, why he was still studying at VT.
One of my students was visiting the campus at Virginia Tech this weekend, and he was all but settled on going there until this happened. It isn’t that he felt the campus wouldn’t be safe — it stands to reason that since this horrible event happened once at VT, the school will take measures to prevent another occurrence. What prompted my student to change his mind was that the school’s climate won’t be the same… and such a state of fear will reign over the campus that it will impede his freedom. He’s probably right. I’m glad he came home from his visit OK. He’s a pretty great kid. But I’m sure all the students who were senselessly murdered (and their admirable professors) were pretty great, too.
It just… doesn’t make any sense, and I don’t know what else I can say aside from that.