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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

College Substance Abuse and Violence - Yeardley Love Murder

Yeardley Love carried into the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen for her funeral this weekend in Baltimore. (AP Photo)

If you have been following along you probably have noticed we have been talking a lot about college substance abuse. The questions at hand have to do with whether or not parents have the right to know what kind of trouble their children are getting into while away at school. The other aspect of concern has to do with whether local officials should report to the college which students have been arrested and for what; this aspect has become especially important after Yeardley Love was murdered on the University of Virginia campus by a student who had been arrested in the past. This is often the case when something tragic happens, countless parents around the country want to know why it happened and how it was allowed to happen? Hindsight is always twenty/twenty!

According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, "Perhaps, if the University of Virginia had been notified that murder suspect George Huguely was arrested in Lexington, Love might still be alive; Huguely might have had to meet with the dean of students, he probably would have faced mandatory substance-abuse counseling or referral to a U.Va. judiciary committee, said school spokeswoman Carol Wood." The article continues, "Top U.Va. officials claim that they were not made aware of Huguely's arrest in late 2008; Huguely, reportedly threatened the life of a Lexington police patrolwoman when he was drunk. He pleaded guilty to charges of being drunk in public and resisting arrest, he received: a suspended 60-day sentence, was fined $100, had to perform community service, and attend a substance-abuse program."

University of Virginia President, John T. Casteen III says that there is a lot of concern about violence towards women at the University of Virginia. Huguely had never been reported to the Dean of Students, Allen Groves, for disciplinary problems and Love did not report any physical abuse or other concerns about Huguely to the university. Is it possible that Love hid any abuse that she endured? "We're going to press very hard that women who have been victims of abuse . . . will be more rigorously encouraged to report quickly and to the right person", Casteen said. So the only indicator that Huguely might be dangerous was a death threat made to a female officer that was never reported to the school.

We can never say for sure what might have happened to Love if policy required police departments to report when students are in trouble, I am not sure it is fair to Yeardley to do so. Out of her death, perhaps, countless lives will be saved because communication lines will be open from here on out. The Washington Post reported that eight of the 41 players on the men's lacrosse team, including Huguely, have been charged with alcohol-related offenses during their college careers. President Casteen stated that school leaders from the U of Va. plan to speak with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell about passing a law that would require police departments to notify universities when a student is arrested.

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