This week, 22-year-old University of Virginia men’s lacrosse player George Huguely was charged with first-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old women’s lacrosse player—-and ex-girlfriend—-Yeardley Love. As the campus recovers, commentators are busy examining the university’s efforts to preventing these types of crimes: Ones involving intimate partner violence, alcohol abuse, and lacrosse.
* The Washington Post examines LAX’s alcohol problem:
[Huguely’s] lacrosse team has a strict alcohol policy. In 1999, Coach Dom Starsia adopted a rule that allowed players to drink only one night a week, usually Saturdays. A player who broke the rule a single time would be suspended indefinitely. A second offense would result in dismissal from the team.
“Alcohol and lacrosse have gone hand-in-hand since my days at Brown [University] in the 1970s,” Starsia told The Washington Post at the time. “Whether it is post-game celebrations or just in general, there was something about the sport and alcohol, and Virginia was no different. I always thought alcohol was an issue here, and it is something we talked about before the season began.”
* Also in the Post, Daniel de Vise asks if the tragedy could have been prevented had Huguely’s former run-ins with police—-including an arrest for threatening in which he threatened to kill a female police officer—-been reported to the school:
Following the death of a student, apparently at the hands of another, University of Virginia President John T. Casteen III is asking the obvious questions: what did officials know of George Huguely’s past behavior, what should they have known, and might they have somehow prevented the death of Yeardley Love?
Casteen said in a news conference Wednesday that school officials were unaware of Huguely’s prior arrest for a drunken and aggressive encounter between the six-foot-two Huguely and a female officer almost a foot shorter in the college town of Lexington, Va. The struggle ended with Huguely Tasered and handcuffed.
In fact, university officials should have known, at least in theory. Huguely should have told them, under a school policy that requires students to report any encounters with police. Huguely evidently didn’t follow that policy.
* Vise also suggests that Spodak’s alcohol policy may have had unintended consequences:
Some of the measures U-Va. has taken to protect students could have unintended consequences, said Barry Spodak, a national authority on threat assessment. He zeroed in on the decade-old policy that forbids the male lacrosse team, of which Huguely was a member, from drinking more than once a week, with stiff penalties.
Could such a rule have the effect of pushing the drinking underground?
“When formulating rules and policies about student behavior, it’s wise to keep in mind whether a proposed policy will inhibit students and staff from reporting worrisome behavior,” he said.
* Meanwhile, Christine Brennan for USA Today comes right out and says that “the tragedy could have been prevented,” had the UVA Women’s Center’s proposed anti-violence network been implemented earlier:
Two weeks ago, Claire Kaplan, director of Sexual and Domestic Violence Services at the University of Virginia Women’s Center, organized a 2 1/2-hour session for a small group of the school’s athletic department staff on a topic that has been vitally important to her for years: the creation of a support network to help student-athletes deal with gender-based violence.
* And Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who doesn’t have the best track record with women’s issues, said in a statement that he’s committed to preventing tragedies like this in the future:
“We are reaching out today to President Casteen to arrange a personal meeting with the Governor. The Governor wants to study and fully consider every possible idea that could help prevent such a senseless crime from taking place in the future. He looks forward to hearing the President’s insights and thoughts on the issue.”