No Right to Remain Silent by Lucinda Roy
The Tragedy of Virginia Tech

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The world watched in horror in April 2007 when Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho went on a killing rampage that resulted in the deaths of thirty-two students and faculty members before he ended his own life.

Former Virginia Tech English department chair and distinguished professor Lucinda Roy saw the tragedy unfold on the TV screen in her home and had a terrible realization. Cho was the student she had struggled to get to know–the loner who found speech torturous. After he had been formally asked to leave a poetry class in which he had shared incendiary work that seemed directed at his classmates and teacher, Roy began the difficult task of working one-on-one with him in a poetry tutorial. During those months, a year and a half before the massacre, Roy came to realize that Cho was more than just a disgruntled young adult experimenting with poetic license; he was, in her opinion, seriously depressed and in urgent need of intervention.

But when Roy approached campus counseling as well as others in the university about Cho, she was repeatedly told that they could not intervene unless a student sought counseling voluntarily. Eventually, Roy’s efforts to persuade Cho to seek help worked. Unbelievably, on the three occasions he contacted the counseling center staff, he did not receive a comprehensive evaluation by them–a startling discovery Roy learned about after Cho’s death. More revelations were to follow. After responding to questions from the media and handing over information to law enforcement as instructed by Virginia Tech, Roy was shunned by the administration. Papers documenting Cho’s interactions with campus counseling were lost. The university was suddenly on the defensive.

Was the university, in fact, partially responsible for the tragedy because of the bureaucratic red tape involved in obtaining assistance for students with mental illness, or was it just, like many colleges, woefully underfunded and therefore underequipped to respond to such cases? Who was Seung-Hui Cho? Was he fully protected under the constitutional right to freedom of speech, or did his writing and behavior present serious potential threats that should have resulted in immediate intervention? How can we balance students’ individual freedom with the need to protect the community? These are the questions that have haunted Roy since that terrible day.

No Right to Remain Silent is one teacher’s cri de coeur–her dire warning that given the same situation today, two years later, the ending would be no less terrifying and no less tragic.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Lucinda Roy

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LUCINDA ROY is an Alumni Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, where she has taught since 1985. Author of the novels Lady Moses and The Hotel Alleluia and two poetry collections, she is the recipient of numerous writing and teaching awards, including a statewide Outstanding Faculty Award in 2005. From 2002—2006, she served as chair of Virginia Tech’s Department of English.From the Hardcover edition.
Published March 31, 2009 by Crown. 338 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for No Right to Remain Silent

Kirkus Reviews

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Poet-novelist Roy (The Hotel Alleluia, 2001, etc.) first met Cho in a poetry class in the spring of 2004.

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Publishers Weekly

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In the fall of 2005, Roy, then chair of Virginia Tech's English department, began a year of one-on-one work with a student whose professor found his affect and work content disturbing.

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The Washington Post

Roy says she debated whether to write about the tragedy, noting that "I would have happily spent the rest of my life at" Virginia Tech and that "this book will, in all probability, oblige me to move on."

Mar 29 2009 | Read Full Review of No Right to Remain Silent: Th...

California Literary Review

Roy writes: “Even after he actively sought help, treatment was not administered by the Cook Counseling Center, nor did Cho receive follow-up treatment from on-campus or local counseling services following the order by a judge that he be treated on an outpatient basis.” And, according to Virginia...

May 11 2009 | Read Full Review of No Right to Remain Silent: Th...

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