At that level, she would have "had severe impairment of her" judgment, decision-making and reasoning skills, a toxicologist testified during the trial. And her "emotional control" would be compromised. Huguely's defense team appeared to suggest last week that Love might have been so drunk that she passed out and drowned on her own bloody nose.

When Love's roommate found her, she reported a possible alcohol overdose to 911 operators, not knowing what else to immediately make of Love's unconscious, though bruised, state.

Love's death stunned the U.Va. community and campuses across the country, which were suddenly faced with the reality that even prestigious universities and privileged students aren't immune to alcohol abuse and violence.

The University of Virginia quickly launched a bystander action program that trained students and staff to intervene if they're concerned about someone. Roughly 10 percent of the school's 14,000 undergraduates volunteered for the program that first year, said Bruce, of the Gordie Center.

Her institution is now named after Lynn Gordon Bailey Jr., an 18-year-old who died during a 2004 hazing incident at the University of Colorado in Boulder, after merging with the Gordie Foundation recently. But it began in 1987 as the Institute for Substance Abuse Studies.

At one point, the university was outpacing the national average numbers when it came to drinking, Bruce said, but that's changed in the past 10 years, with fewer drinking-and-driving incidents and negative consequences being reported.

"Most students are drinking in a moderate way," Bruce said. And even those who drink to excess are generally taken care of, U.Va. students say.

"They're going out with friends who take care of them," said Chris Leslie, a 20-year-old from Vienna, Va., who was having a pizza dinner with friends last week. "There are obviously aberrations, which is why there's this story [about Love and Huguely]," he added.

Calls for education

Emily Sears, who coordinates Towson University's substance abuse counseling center, said many young people don't know how to drink responsibly.

"There's a complete lack of understanding and knowledge about how to measure a drink ... how to measure a shot out instead of just pouring alcohol out of a bottle into a red Solo cup," she said. Towson students call their plastic cup concoctions "jungle juice," Sears said. And when she was in college at Loyola in the early 1990s, her peers called it "the trash can."

Towson students are required to take an online alcohol education course as freshmen, like many other students at campuses around the country, including U.Va.'s. But Gimble thinks there should be more done, "especially with freshmen and getting parents involved."

There should be "more education, mandatory education," he said, "not just something on a computer." The college drinking of today feels different to him, more dangerous. "It's the worst I've seen it in my 30 years in this business," he said.

Gimble is urging parents to keep their young adult children close to home and to make surprise visits at their dorms and apartments. And after Love's death, he also started suggesting that parents ask their kids to sign waivers, so the school can notify them if trouble occurs.

"Somebody has got to step in and do something. It's Russian roulette, otherwise, another Yeardley Love can happen," Gimble said. "We've got to learn from this. ... It would just be a bigger tragedy if we didn't do something that would make a difference."

Baltimore Sun reporter Jean Marbella contributed to this story.

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com



College alcohol abuse by the numbers