Love's legacy: Sullivan urges vigilance, voices at UVA

news-rotunda-black-veilFor the September 24 Day of Dialogue, the Rotunda columns become a public art project called "Lines of Darkness and Light," a meditation on the death of Yeardley Love. PHOTO BY LISA PROVENCE

Almost five months after the University of Virginia reeled from the brutal murder of one of its own, an air of mourning still pervades the Lawn. Columns of the Rotunda are clad in black veils on one end, and on the other, a preponderance of black-clad students, faculty, and staff stream into Old Cabell Hall for the start of the university's Day of Dialogue: Toward a Caring Community.

The day is a continuance of a discussion that started May 3, said UVA President Teresa Sullivan. That was when the death of fourth-year Yeardley Love, a beautiful lacrosse star, rocked the university community and became a national story. Her former boyfriend, George Huguely, another lacrosse player, is charged with her murder.

"In a real sense, we are picking up from where we left off last May," said Sullivan. "Those of us who weren't in Charlottesville last May experienced Yeardley's death from a distance, and even at a distance, it was heartbreaking."

The September 24 Day of Dialogue was initiated by a student group called Let's Get Grounded, and 1,500 registered to take part in discussions throughout the day that were closed to the media.

Sullivan noted that there were seven deaths of UVA students during the 2009-10 year–- including a spelunker and an earthquake victim, as well as another murder victim: Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, who disappeared from a Metallica concert.

"For some of these deaths, we're left to wonder whether we might have done something differently.... whether we could have intervened," said Sullivan.

"We've seen horrible events here in Charlottesville," said Sullivan. "We acknowledge that violence and abuse are international issues."

news-teresa-sullivan-9-24UVA President Teresa Sullivan wants to "channel the energies of grief into a stronger, more caring community." PHOTO BY LISA PROVENCE

She said she's been offered differing opinions on proper response–- ranging from not talking about the deaths at all to a suggestion that students should be armed on Grounds, a proposal that brought hearty applause from at least one member of the Old Cabell Hall audience.

Art, poetry, music, and dance are part of the day's process, the most visible of which are the black-veiled columns on the Rotunda designed by UVA art and architecture professor Sanda Illiescu. Installed about a week ago, the veils would come down around 5pm to symbolically close the day's events.

"Note the progression from first person singular to plural," said Sullivan, as she framed the day's key questions: Am I my brother's/sister's keeper, and are we a caring community?

"We live in a broken world, and we're not going to fix it in six hours," acknowledged Sullivan.

During the press conference following the opening session, WVTF's Sandy Hausman asked Sullivan whether the event was "preaching to the converted."

Sullivan pointed back to the student-initiated Let's Get Grounded, with its goal of teaching people to recognize when something's wrong in the community, and when to act.

"Very few things happen in complete secrecy in the university," said Sullivan. "When do you have a responsibility to speak up?"

The new UVA president remained on her message.

"We're not going to get rid of "anger, hatred, drug abuse and all the rest of the things that might be root causes," she said, "but what we can do is at least be a little more responsive when we know it's going on."


@mama mia! I know! I hate it when people call me and my wife "kissing cousins"!

ââ?¬Å?Very few things happen in complete secrecy in the university,” said Sullivan. ââ?¬Å?When do you have a responsibility to speak up?”

NEW QUESTION: And when a student does speak up, what are you going to do??? THAT'S the real question that students want answered.

READTHEHOOK: Press her to answer that!

Tinkerbelle, interesting website you have connected with your first post. Visited the site and the site connected with the alleged. Strange that all the faces on the site were MEN!! Go figure.

The deal here is to remember Yeardley Love and what happened to her and how to make this tragedy transform a bit into some awareness and prevention. Let her death as needless and insane as it was matter and allow the Light and Goodness that Yeardley was live. Let's not allow her to die in vain. This sort of thing can be prevented, we can change alot of the aspects that surround relational violence.

I hope she is resting in Heaven and has forgiven all of us who looked the other way and ignored the signs that her perp put out so blatantly and over time. May she be forever in peace. God bless her family.

This is the question that i am very interested in. How do you strike the correct balance? If someone gets a drunk and disorderly should they be monitored? What about someone who gets drunk and tells someone off in person or over the phone? Maybe if there is a drastic change in grades they should get counseling? How do you know which people are the ones who will snap without becoming a police state? Another important question that is always relevant, is where does the money come from for the additional surveillance and counseling?

@mama mia,
I don't think anyone would say violence between people who know each other is any different they between strangers. I think using the term acquaintance is actually an important modifier. Most people think crime is always between strangers, where the opposite is actually true. It is sad, but people always need to be on guard.

I urge the University of Virginia to remind students of the importance of basic security precautions. Locking apartment doors is a basic way to look out for yourselves and your housemates but is often neglected by college students.
Students: LOCK your doors!

Yes, violence is violence, but without the modifiers you have people who continue to tout the use of deadbolts are the only way to stay safe as Gail did. Because the perpetrators of these types of violence have different motivations, it's important to identify these accordingly for awareness and prevention.

It's too bad that some folks see certain types of violence as less of a problem. Losing the identifiers isn't going to make it go away.

Remember Love- I agree with you, but have you seen this?

There was a comment on there and the Cav Daily that they may as well keep the black drape on the rotunda. They learned nothing from Yeardley or Harrington's deaths.

I might add that it's important to report things when they happen. Even if you don't get an arrest that prevents him from attacking someone else for awhile, then the cops will at least have that much more to go on for his next victim. Just look at how the Harrington case played out, the last victim's report was the only thing that gives us an idea of who he is.

@Logan; I see, you are part of the "most men are accused when they are really innocent." Hmmmm... perhaps she did not recant, perhaps she was pressured to drop it because he had more money than she? because the police did not investigate the case properly so the Commonwealth had nothing to go on for criminal prosecution. Contact the woman now -- see how the trauma she endured has affected her years later. If she made it up she won't show signs of PTSD.

There's another story for the Hook -- have the followed up on any of the 'big" rape cases to see where the women are and how they have coped with what happened to them? And what if we find that 5-10 years out these women are still afraid, suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, and so forth? Are they just data for a chart or are there lessons to be learned. The new UVA President should give that some thought.

You have already played Judge and jury -- the original question was, what does UVA do with the information about violence once they receive it? Since you were part of a judicial board you already know and have experienced the answer: nothing!

May your wife meet a UVA undergrad in a bar and be raped and sodomized. No one will care.
Well, that's constructive dialogue.

Geez, mama mia! sounds like that mother of the student who was raped. What was her name? She also objected to terms such as "domestic violence" for the same idiosyncratic reasons and posted heated responses whenever anyone reasonably disagreed.

@MzFitz; and using the term "acquaintance violence" makes the crime appear less of a crime because the parties involved knew of each other. Call is what it is: violence. You don't have to qualify it by using the term "acquaintance".

@mama mia: It sounds like you have a different personal story then me. Personally, I think violence is violence and should be treated the same whether the victim knew their attacker or not. To me it is an awareness problem, and adding acquaintance helps increase awareness of this type of violence. Again, I think it is unfortunate, but to say that only women need to be vigilant is not true. Everyone should be aware of what is going on around them at all times.

@Tinkerbelle: To be honest, i am not all that familiar with the inner workings at UVA. I am sure that you can find cases where people did the wrong thing, but is/was it a systemic institutional problem or is/was it a bad decision at the time. If they really don't treat these things seriously that is a major problem and if it is indeed an institutional problem then that needs to change. If that is the case, I can only hope a change at the top will correct these kind of things.

As I stated above, we are all the creation of our experiences. I severed on a university judicial board where a rape victim recanted only after 3 weeks and a full and mostly public police investigation. I truly feel sorry for her and don't think she was being vindictive. That said, the student who was accused really went through the ringer of police interviews and public damnation for those 3 weeks. By the way his name was leaked.

Does that mean we should not believe a rape victim, certainly not! But we also need to act with a level head and continue innocent until proven guilty and above all keep things private until we know the facts.

I agree that we need to learn and get better. But just saying that doesn't help. What actions can we take?

So far spreading awareness that people should keep an eye on their friends and make sure they are stable is the best thing I have heard. They know them and should be able to tell if they are changing in a bad way. That said, how often do you hear about someone "snapping" with no real actionable signs ahead of time? Beyond that what can the university or society as a whole really do if someone has changed? We can offer them services, but we cannot make them take advantage of the services. You cannot convict someone of something they might do.

Personally i worry about the culpability that the university is accepting by having everyone report off campus information. What actions can they take? What do you do when you find out a student has gotten a drunk in public during a school break? Would it be different for assault or reckless driving? At what point does double jeopardy (being convicted of the same crime twice) come into play?

I agree with everyone that something should be done, but i am still unclear on what it should actually be.

Just a friend keeping the issue alive for her until they arrest the man who raped her kid and several other undergraduates. At least she always had the nerve to blog with her actual name. I don't!

@Whateva!: She also has no control over who uses her website in their postings. After the Love murder, some troll named Sean was writing all about her daughter's case -- and he had many of the "facts" wrong. But to be honest folks, she couldn't care less about UVA. They did her kid wrong and she owes them nothing.

@Logan: If a woman is raped by a stranger, everyone gasps. if a woman is raped by someone she knew, the police/public/media call it a he said-she said and the questions begin (was it consensual, was there remorse the morning after). No, there is no reason to add the modifier "acquaintance" to the term violence. If a student goes to a professor for help at his office and he rapes her, it will be labeled acquaintance rape. Is it really acquaintance rape? No, it's rape. And, the fact that you say people always need to be on guard, you are actually saying "women". Women do not need to be stressed in every situation all day long.

@Logan: I think you are looking for an easy answer. I was referring to students who have been reported for assault, have been arrested in the community, have had several sexual encounters that fir the definition of rape. When a woman goes to the UVA Med Center for the morning after pill, she is asked if the sex was consensual. if she respond no, what does the desk nurse do? Nothing. When a student goes to the Dean of Students and reports a rape, what does the Dean do? Nothing. If a student is arrested for Obstruction of justice, what does the school do? Nothing. Go down the road to VA Tech -- if a student there is arrested for Obstruction of Justice, they are hauled into a judiciary board and monitored. Not at UVA.

@Morris: Dumb remarks like yours are why there is never any productive dialogue. May your wife meet a UVA undergrad in a bar and be raped and sodomized. No one will care.

@JerseyK: When a woman reports an assault, the man's DNA is not collected and no case is started to "track" his behavior. In a perfect world, the links would align, but in our current system, they do not.

Gail, while locking doors may prevent stranger danger, it doesn't do much for acquaintance violence.

vigilance? how about a trial? let's just keep postponing it... ahhh what a wonderful state. such justice and respect when it comes to the law. good luck with this place ...