Lucinda Roy, the English professor who tutored the killer of 32 VA Tech students and faculty members, is still haunted by not only the day of the massacre but by the events that lead up to the tragic day filled our nation with horror. Dr. Roy tutored Seung Hui Cho privately after he was removed from his poetry class. He has been removed because he frightened the other students and another professor with his writing.

Dr. Roy was so troubled by Cho’s writing that she urged him to seek counseling and wrote numerous emailed to officials on campus alerting them to his behavior and asking for help.

According to the Washington Post:

She goes through it all in painstaking detail in what she calls a memoir-critique, “No Right to Remain Silent.” It’s a book she began writing just months after the massacre in an effort not only to understand what had happened, but also to take the Virginia Tech administration to task for failing to communicate openly about it and to sound a warning to other schools that unless they begin to take troubled students seriously and find ways to intervene earlier, a Virginia Tech most assuredly can and will happen again.

In the video, she talks about her own feelings of guilt for not being able to somehow intervene in time to have prevented this horrible tragedy.

Not to belabor the tragedy at Tech, but there are some serious issues in this state with how we deal with mental illness. Why did Tech ignore the warnings of Dr. Roy? Why did Fairfax County Schools not warn officials at Tech about these troubled students? Why was Cho not required to go to counseling? Where do our privacy rights end when someone potentially could simply go off the deep end and kill many people or themselves? This discussion was begun on another thread.

I think we have several ideas on a collision course. Have we changed our gun purchasing laws? Has Tech changed its rules as they pertain to student counseling? Has federal or state law changed laws about privacy? Has the VA General Assembly addressed any of these issues?

Professor Roy’s story is extremely haunting and frightening.

13 Thoughts to “Va. Tech Massacre Haunts Professor Roy”

  1. You Wish

    To answer one question
    “Why did Fairfax County Schools not warn officials at Tech about these troubled students?”

    You can blame FERPA on that one. According to FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)
    “Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student’s education record.” from

    Any notes that the school counselor/social worker/psych would have taken are considered part of his “education record” and not allowed to be released to anyone w/o parental consent (or the student’s consent if they are 18).

    Believe me, as a county school employee, we have been lectured up one side and down the other about FERPA. The county’s hands are tied. If Mr. Cho saw the school psych or social worker, they cannot pass on the records w/o parent permission.

    You bring up great points – there needs to be a change in FERPA in regards to this. When a student tells a teacher/psych/counselor that they have been abused or they are going to commit suicide, the teacher/psych/counselor has a legal obligation to notify the police or contact a psychologist to get help for the child AND notify the parent. But we can’t pass that information along to other schools or individuals who might benefit from knowledge of that information without parent consent.

    There comes a time when the safety of a community outweighs the privacy of the individual.

    I feel sorry for Dr. Roy – she did the best that she could and was ignored. The saddest part of her story was that she still thinks about how she could have been the one to try and talk Cho out of his rampage on that day. I hope that by writing her book she is able to find some peace.

  2. Moon-howler

    I feel sorry for Dr. Roy also. She did the very best she could. I also wonder if she was forced to tutor Cho. I had read where celebrity professor Nikki Giovanni had refused to teach him and had threatened to resign rather than have him in her class.

    I totally agree that that the safety of a community outweighs the privacy of the individual. I also think that what we know happened in the English department SCREAMS that something is wrong with the system. Both Giovanni and Roy KNEW something was wrong. Yet nothing was done. I feel that Dr. Roy might have been victimized to some degree by having to do one on one tutoring of Cho. She simply didn’t have the celebrity status that Dr. Giovanni had. I want to read her book.

    More on Nikki Giovanni who is quite an interesting character herself. She speaks out on hate-motivated crime.


    On a related topic…I read Wally Lamb’s novel “The Hour I First Believed” when I was on my Christmas vacation and it was an AMAZING read. It was a fictitious novel based on what happened to a married couple that were teachers at Columbine on the day “it” happened. The male half was not at the school on the day of the attack and it chronicled their life after Columbine. I highly recommend it.

  4. Moon-howler

    Thanks for the recommendation, Twinad.

    What concerns me the most about Tech is that they haven’t changed the way they do business, that I can tell. What has changed to reduce the risk of something like this happening again? Have we just said OOOOPS and moved on? When 32 people are gunned down in cold blood, should things change?

    Wasn’t it earlier this year that a mentally ill student decapitated someone at Tech? Didn’t people contact the school, student services, counselling, and the Blacksburg cops about the decapitator before the incident?

    What does it take? To me, decapitation in the coffee shop is a pretty big deal. It is NOT business as usual. I don’t even think the media cares. I have heard no follow up.

  5. Anesthesia

    Wally Lamb is amazing.

    If you haven’t done so already, consider reading “I know this much is true.” It’s about adult twins, one of whom has schizophrenia.

  6. You Wish

    You are correct Moon – it was an exchange student who decapitated his girlfriend in the university coffee shop in front of other students. I haven’t heard any follow up either.

    Today is also the anniversary of the Columbine shootings – 10 years. I will have to see if I can find a copy of Wally Lamb’s book on CD (I have a crazy long commute and books on CD keep me sane in traffic). “I Know This Much Is True” is also a great read – I haven’t read it in a long time and should pull it out again.


    Anesthesia/You Wish,

    Yes, I read that one, too! When I saw he had a new one out last fall I immediately put it on my Christmas list, even though it sounded like a downer. Really, really, worth it though! Definitely recommend for a long commute…it’s a big book, but I plowed through it in about 3 days. That’s the only way I can read these days…

  8. Anesthesia

    Twinad, was it a downer?


    No, not at all! It was absolutely a ride, but one well worth taking. Can’t speak highly enough of it.

  10. You Wish

    I’m on the waiting list for the library to get it on CD – thanks for the suggestion!

  11. Moon-howler

    Thanks, Wish. Has anyone heard anything since then? This story just seemed to get lost in the shuffle. My concern is that there are individuals who seem to get everyone’s attention by displaying abberant behavior, yet nothing is done.

    I don’t know if this is a Tech problem or a VA problem or a national problem but something needs to change.

  12. The missing piece. What really happened. Lucinda Roy is covering up the truth:

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