The Question Mark in Harper Hall

“He seemed to be crying behind his sunglasses.. It was like talking to a hole sometimes…. Everything emptied out and seemed very dark when he entered.”

Nikki Giovanni, the feminist poet and teacher at Virginia Tech who stirred the campus convocation yesterday with a poem, had Cho in a poetry class two years ago — and it wasn’t long before she had him tossed out. “There was something mean about this boy,” she said. “Troubled kids get drunk and jump off buildings. It was the meanness that bothered me.” Giovanni recalled that Cho came to class in dark sunglasses and a hat. And every day, from very early in the semester, she would ask him to remove the one and then the other. “We would have this sort of ritual,” she said.

Giovanni recalled that Cho “was very intimidating to my other students.” Eventually, other kids began skipping class because of his behavior. The poet then wrote creative writing department boss Lucinda Roy a letter — in part to create a record — asking Roy to remove him from class. Giovanni said Cho turned in material that wasn’t poetry but just junk. “He was writing weird things,” she recalled. “It was terrible…. It was just intimidating.” (Time)