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Yeardley Love case prompts U-Va. rule change

Returning students to the University of Virginia will have a new question to answer when they arrive on campus: Have you ever been arrested?

The Yeardley Love slaying last spring prompted university officials to tighten their rules on students who are arrested or convicted. New President Teresa Sullivan discussed the changes Friday in a morning news conference.

Love, 22, of suburban Baltimore was found dead in her off-campus apartment May 3. George Huguely, her 22-year-old ex-boyfriend and fellow lacrosse player from Chevy Chase, is charged in the death.

Huguely had a previous arrest, in 2008, for a drunken encounter with a Lexington, Va., police officer.

University officials said Huguely likely would have been suspended or expelled had they known of the arrest. Huguely was required to report it to the university under a 2004 U-Va. rule, stated in the student handbook, which requires students to report any arrest or conviction. Huguely never did.

Sullivan said that requirement has been changed from a "passive" to an "active" notification system: students henceforth will have to state in writing whether they have been arrested the first time they log onto the U-Va. computer system.

The change is significant: students who lie about an arrest on the form will be violating U-Va.'s strict honor code. Under the code, students who are confirmed to have lied, cheated or stolen face a single sanction -- dismissal.

The old rule was not universally known, and students who violated it did not necessarily commit an honor-code violation.

"This will be a hard stop before you can register," Sullivan said, speaking to reporters.

Students return to Charlottesville the weekend of Aug. 21.

A separate U-Va. rule requires athletes to inform their coaches of an arrest within 24 hours. Huguely's lacrosse coach said the player never told him of the 2008 arrest.

Sullivan, who is completing her first full week on the U-Va. campus, said she followed the Love case with sorrow from the campus of University of Michigan, where she was provost.

"I was deeply affected by it in Ann Arbor -- and, of course, not able to do anything, but very aware of the responsibility we have at universities, because the parents have trusted us with their greatest treasures, which are their sons and daughters," she said.

Sullivan said she would continue the strenuous efforts of her predecessor, John T. Casteen, to make the Charlottesville campus (known as the Grounds) a sanctuary for students.

"On the other hand," she said, "we cannot build a bubble around the Grounds . . . Things that happen, bad things that happen in everyday life, also happen on the Grounds."

Sullivan said all U-Va. students would attend mandatory sessions about safety this fall. She said four of the largest student organizations had volunteered to return to campus early for "bystander training, which is how to get involved and not stand passively [by] when you see something happening."

The ultimate goal of the Get Grounded initiative, Sullivan said, is "developing a caring community where we respect one another and take care of one another."

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By Daniel de Vise  |  August 6, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Administration , Athletics , Crime , Students  | Tags: George Huguely, Teresa Sullivan, U-VA lacrosse, UVA lacrosse murder, University Virginia lacrosse, Yeardley Love  
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Does this policy also affect faculty? Also, if you answer yes, how will the info be tracked and used? Don't collect information that you don't plan on using.

In my time at UVa, a faculty member encouraged a group of students to undertake an improptu protest at a local elementary school. The faculty member cleared out before the police arrived, though the young, well-meaning and dumb students got arrested. They did get an education that day - there are better avenues for protest and don't trust faculty to be looking out for your best interests.

Posted by: mellwood1 | August 6, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I thought juvenile records were sealed.

Although this is a good thing, and colleges and universities can ask pretty much what they want, I question whether colleges and universities have the legal authority to require students or potential students to respond as a condition of acceptance.

And even if they lie and say No, how will the college or university know when they don't have access to the court records?

Kind of a catch-22. But, when kids on campus start to understand it's OK to tell someone when a fellow student or teacher is acting contrary to acceptable norms, only then can things like this be stopped before they end in tragedy.

Students know more about what is going on the campus than administrators, professors and even campus police. Effective peer pressure is a most powerful tool to deter crime - once students figure it out.

Posted by: asmith1 | August 6, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Well, voluntary compliance, or else you can get permanently expelled from the University on an Honor Code violation for lying. I think that is enough to make students comply.

Posted by: thetan | August 6, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't it seem like you get kicked out whether you lie or not? Why not just lie and hope they don't find out until you've already got a diploma? I'm also a little annoyed about the presumption of guilt implied in this. I thought we were innocent until proven guilty in this country.

Posted by: haether | August 6, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Just arrested is sufficient? Even without the arrest resulting in charges, much less a conviction?

Posted by: wpjf | August 6, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Talk about a worthless exercise. Have you ever been arrested? Reminds me of Alice's Restaurant. A poor use of the honor code and will contribute to it's continued dilution. An inauspicious start for a new president. She is getting bad advice.

Posted by: andersenck | August 6, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like a new totalitarian regime at UVa. Once upon a time, in this country, one was actually considered innocent until proven guilty.

Apparently, now if one is falsely arrested, he or she must prove his/her innocence to UVa even if one was never charged or convicted of a crime.

Even if one was arrested and found completely innocent, one will apparently be placed on UVa's "Arrest Offender's List."

I wonder who will have access to UVA's list. What will the University's responsibility be when someone hacks into the list and distributes its contents to the University community?

Since Juvenile records are sealed, perhaps UVa can have the law changed so that its administrators can snoop around in their students’ juvenile records anytime they get bored. While they are at it, they can amuse themselves by checking out custody proceedings and other domestic matters involving the now adult student.

If a court expunges a juvenile record, does UVa still have a right to demand that information?

I guess the lawyers in Charlottesville will be busy.

I love the new bystander training. Will UVa next expel a student for refusing to get involved, not wanting to subject himself/herself to police interrogation, and/or not wanting to be a witness in university adjudications or court proceedings.

Some students may actually want to devote their time to studying at UVa, and not want to involve themselves in other peoples’ problems. People have a right “not to get involved” in these situations -- just not at UVa!

Posted by: starbucks1 | August 8, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

What about all the other UVa employees, not just the faculty? The food service people, the custodians, the library staff, the hospital workers, etc., shouldn’t they register their arrests, including juvenile arrests, with the University? After all, these individuals may have contact with the students.

What about the University's contractors, repairmen, delivery people, construction workers on campus, security people, police force, shouldn't they all have to disclose their arrest records?

What about campus visitors, speakers, visiting professors, etc. Shouldn’t everyone who has potential contact with a student have to disclose everything?

Further, if UVa is SO concerned with student safety, why do they employ REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS on campus (hospital, library)?

Posted by: starbucks1 | August 8, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Are the students at UVA giving up a presumption of innocence until proven guilty and their 5th Amendment rights?

Posted by: viavalerie | August 10, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I also thought most juv. records were sealed: I know that many are expunged. This makes them null and void and thus - not reportabe?
Lots of gray area here. Please address in future reporting.
(And what about the "arrest" terminology, many arrests do not lead to convictions or pleas.

Posted by: FloridaChick | August 10, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

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