(NNPA) - On Sunday, May 22, two students were absent from "walking the Lawn" as graduates of the University of Virginia—one is dead and one is in jail, charged with the other's murder.
As an alumnus of the University of Virginia I have joined the nation in mourning the seemingly senseless death of Yeardley Love, a former fourth year student and member of the women's Lacrosse team at the University in Charlottesville, Va. My first reaction was, "students at Thomas Jefferson's academical village are not murderers!"
According to police reports, Yeardley Love died of blunt force trauma apparently following her head repeatedly hitting the apartment wall. Why, and at whose hand Ms. Love died is yet to be determined by the court system. However, people close to Yeardley Love and George Huguely, the accused, have reported multiple incidents of violent behavior between the romantic couple. On one occasion friends reported that in February 2010 Huguely began choking Love at a lacrosse party so violently that three other lacrosse players (two from rival University of North Carolina) had to pull him off of her.
In another report, following a night of drinking and partying Huguely believed a fellow lacrosse teammate had walked Yeardley home and allegedly kissed her. Huguely stormed into the teammate's room and punched him in his sleep, as he shouted (according to his later accounts), "sweet dreams, punk."
While publicly drunk on a "road trip" to Washington & Lee University Huguely shouted racial and gender epitaphs to an African American police officer. Ultimately, according to the officer, she had to use a Taser gun to restrain Huguely. The incident was not required to be reported to the University of Virginia officials under law.
Regardless of Huguely's guilt or innocence on the charge of murder, one thing is certain: a pattern of violent behavior to his romantic interest existed. Sadly, the issue of date violence is common on American college campuses. For example: The issue of date violence is of national import on college campuses. For example:
• A study issued by the Yale University Department of Health Services reported 25 percent of college men surveyed admitted slapping, pushing or restraining a female partner
• Majority of victims murdered by date partners are estranged, separated, or in process of leaving relationship
• United States Department of Justice report cites that women 16-24 years old are the most likely victims of date partner violence
• Only 10 percent if male-to-female violence is reported
• White students had somewhat higher rates of violent victimization than Blacks and higher rates than students of other races, respectively
• According to National Center for Victims of Crime, 39-54 percent of dating violence victims remain in abusive relationships The tragedy of Yeardley Love's death is a small sense is the confluence of race and privilege. What may have united George and Yeardley is that they both White, were from upper-middle class families, and both played the elite game of lacrosse.
In 1912, Huguely's great-great grandfather co-founded the Galliher & Huguely lumber yard in Washington, DC. His family invested in racehorses, owned yachts, and was life members in racially exclusive country clubs. George grew up in a million dollar home in lofty area of Potomac, Maryland and graduated from the prestigious Landon School where he starred on the football and lacrosse team. Love was raised in an upscale suburb of Baltimore, Md.
Yeardley graduated from the elite Notre Dame Preparatory School. At the University Love was a member of the well-to-do sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta. While not all lacrosse players come from wealthy families the preponderance do so. And where there is privilege the sense of entitlement many times is not far behind (i.e. Duke lacrosse players in 2005 accused of sexually assaulting a stripper in a bathroom of a party house).
Whereas, the incidents at the University of Virginia and Duke University revolve around wealth, privilege, and race, most date violence results mostly from men violently striking females. Date violence against women is a national crisis. To address the national issue of date violence state legislatures, NCAA, and college presidents should adopt uniform policies on college campuses that require arrests of students to be reported to college presidents.
Additionally, anger management courses should be sponsored by college organizations such as fraternities and sororities. Most of all, friends of battered women must share information with authorities and families. American should show one love against date violence.