Fall of 2005: Campus police made an unsuccessful effort to have Cho involuntarily committed to a mental institution for his “sullen and aggressive anger.”
October 2005: Creative writing professor, Nikki Giovanni, refused to allow Cho to stay in her class because his writing was “intimidating” and he frightened other students.
November 2005: One woman complained of unwelcome phone calls from Cho but declined to press charges.
December 2005: A second woman asked the police to put a stop to Cho’s instant messages to her. She also declined to press charges.
Winter 2005: Cho voluntarily went to the police department, and a judge signed an order saying that he “present[ed] an imminent danger to self or others.”
Fall 2006: Cho submitted two plays to Edward Falco’s class that had so much profanity and violent imagery that the other students refused to read and analyze his work.
Winter 2006: English professor, Lisa Norris, was disturbed by Cho’s writings and contacted the associate dean. But without a clear threat, the dean said nothing could be done.
April 16, 2007: Cho killed 33 students and faculty before killing himself.
Despite all of the interventions by the police and faculty members, Cho was allowed to remain on campus and live with other students.
“You had a hundred billion chances and ways to avoid today, but you decided to spill my blood,” Cho says in one of the videos. “You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option.”
In hindsight, there truly were “a hundred billion” chances to avoid the Virginia Tech massacre. That’s why university officials across the country are now re-examining their emergency preparedness systems.
“You can’t really go to a campus in this country post-Virginia Tech and not see a threat-assessment group,” Kaaryn Sonan, spokeswoman for the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, says.
Several colleges, including the University of Illinois-Chicago, Boston University and the University of Kentucky have recently created groups to monitor potentially harmful students. While this is a new move for many campuses, USC has had a similar program in place for almost 20 years.
“We have a group, but we do not have a group that monitors people who are mentally ill,” Dr. Bradford King, director of counseling services, says. “It’s much more an attempt to make sure we’re all working together to make a network of safety for the student and others.”
To ensure a safe campus, the Student Concerns Committee evaluates students who have been brought to the committee’s attention. Then, they create an individualized plan to help students and prevent danger to themselves or to others.
“The reason why the Virginia Tech shooting happened was because people were so concerned about privacy,” international relations student Chris Meyers says. “Who cares about privacy? If a student is a risk to himself or to other students, then just get him some help.”