By any measure, Yeardley Love, 22, was a star student at the University of Virginia. She was on the women's lacrosse team, and she was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, just up the street from St. Paul's and which has its regular chapter meeting every Monday evening in our parish hall. So it is particularly sickening to our parish community to learn that she was found dead Monday, murdered allegedly at the hands of another student, her ex-boyfriend, who kicked in her door and repeatedly banged her head against the wall (read the story HERE).
There is much that needs to be said, and many questions that need to be asked about student life at UVa. Her ex-boyfriend had a history of violence and alcohol abuse. He had been tasered by a woman police officer in 2008 after threatening the officer. (you can read a story about that by clicking HERE). He had two other alcohol-related arrests as a minor. Alcohol may have been involved in his rage against his ex-girlfriend. How is it that he was still a student?
I have mentioned this before on this blog, and I will say it again: The University of Virginia has an out-of-control culture of alcohol that is dangerous to this community and the students who live here. Drinking is celebrated, and alcohol-poisoned students are regularly taken to the ER at the medical center. I wrote about this last September (you can read that by clicking HERE). I brought this up last fall at a meeting with University officials, who acknowledge the problem but seem to be out of ideas on what to do about it.
I also hear regular rumors that violence against women students is common. Drinking and violence are often related.
The University of Virginia will soon have a new president, Teresa Sullivan. I am confident that she will examine all of the unpleasant facts about student life that need to be faced, and take whatever measures need to be taken to protect the lives of students and this community.
It is too easy to get cheap beer near the grounds. The convenience store a half-block from St. Paul's sells suitcase size cases of beer. This is a public university, and in the very least, the General Assembly should pass a law banning off-site sales within two miles of the university. Other states have done that. Why not Virginia?
For now, I ask your prayers for Yeardley's friends and family, for the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, and for all those in our community who are in deep shock over this terrible tragedy. Our clergy staff is reaching out to students and especially to Yeardley's sorority sisters, and our doors are open for prayers and tears.