As Virginia deals with tragedy, one has to wonder if red flags missed
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- As candles held by several thousand of his students flickered Wednesday evening, University of Virginia president
"We know very little at this point," Casteen said, "about Yeardley's dying."
Huguely's attorney insists Love's death was an accident. Prosecutors disagree. They're charging Huguely with first-degree murder. According to documents obtained Wednesday by the
So far, no examples of previous domestic incidents have made their way into the public sphere. Rumors have flown across the campus that
Dean of students
At the vigil, Casteen implored students to speak up if they suspect domestic abuse. Maybe that wouldn't have saved Love's life, but maybe it would have. "Don't hear a scream," Casteen told the students. "Don't watch abuse. Don't hear stories of abuse and stay quiet."
That, of course, is easy to say now. It's not so easy to do for college students subject to myriad social pressures. Casteen, Groves, Littlepage and the rest of the administrators at Virginia must work to change a culture that makes it all too easy to remain silent.
Casteen and company also must change their own culture. Someone in a position of authority at Virginia should have known about Huguely's November 2008 arrest in Lexington, Va., on charges of intoxication, public swearing and resisting arrest before they read about it in
It came as news to Casteen this week that the state of Virginia keeps a database of people convicted of crimes in the state. He said the school would begin using that database to check backgrounds. That database that eluded Virginia officials until this week, by the way, can be found easily by searching "Virginia criminal records" on Google.
Casteen lamented that no law exists requiring municipalities to alert universities when a student is arrested. He also criticized Lexington officials, wondering aloud why they hadn't made a bigger deal out of the case if Huguely had indeed threatened to kill an officer.
Had someone at Virginia known about the 2008 offense, maybe Huguely could have received some help. Anyone who gets so drunk that they don't remember being hit with a Taser could benefit from some treatment.
Or maybe someone did know and was too afraid to speak. Either way, a potential red flag was missed. Now a young woman has been killed weeks short of her college graduation. Love's family will bury her Saturday in Maryland. At Virginia, they'll try to take away a lesson from a senseless killing. "My hope for Yeardley, and for you, is that her death inspires an anger, a sense of outrage," Casteen told the students.
The Virginia Gentlemen, the school's male a cappella choir, closed the vigil with a rendition of
The Gentlemen turned and filed off the stage. Everyone else remained still for nearly a minute. The flames from their candles danced as that final question hung in the air.