I am still too stunned by yesterday's events to offer any insight into them. I think we are all waiting for more information to help us make sense of the tragedy -- realizing what little sense there is to "make" of it (i.e., no matter what details might emerge).
I respond to the event on many levels, and through several different lenses -- as a parent, as a prof, and, naturally, as a citizen on this planet where violence is all too common, everyday.
It's as a prof that I write this particular post, in that I have been wondering what support the faculty community might give to the community at Virginia Tech. The fingerpointing is already well underway, and we can only hope that the blame game leads to insight, and not mere calumny. What role can and should faculty play here? I wonder.
I was mulling over this question (i.e., what can *I do?), when I went to the Chronicle and discovered this item, which I reprint below. It is *not how I answer my own question, not at all, though it does narrow the "role of faculty" generally down to English professors in particular, and the relationship we have with our students viz. their writing.
Student Was 'Troubled,' Says English Department Chair
Blacksburg, Va. — Cho Seung-Hui, the student responsible for yesterday’s mass killing at Virginia Tech, was a “troubled” student, said Carolyn Rude, chair of the university’s English department, today.
Within the past two years, she said, faculty members repeatedly reported their concern about things the 23-year-old student had written in his creative-writing courses.
The chair of the English department at the time, Lucinda Roy, passed those concerns along to administrators, Ms. Rude said.
“Enough faculty called it to the attention of the then-chair,” Ms. Rude said. She would not elaborate about what Mr. Cho had written, nor would she describe his behavior, saying she did not know him. —Robin Wilson
Many "troubling" questions here -- no answers, certainly. Your thoughts are welcome, on any of the above, but certainly on the question of what faculty might do.
Post-script, April 18: I understand that there are sites on Facebook to pay one's respects. I created a site, but found that while people visited, they were not posting, which I wholly understand; it did not feel right to leave the site up, though. We're all responding in our own ways.