I can’t stop thinking about the
disappearance of Hannah Graham, the 18-year-old University of Virginia student
who was last seen on September 13 as she walked near her Charlottesville
Like Hannah, my own daughter is 18 and
attending college. Like Hannah, she is a daughter, a sister, a friend and a
granddaughter. And also like Hannah, she has parents who send their child off
to school, never dreaming that she might just disappear into thin air. I watched
Hannah’s parents on TV pleading for help to “bring Hannah home” and my heart
We should all be concerned with Hannah’s
disappearance, because it concerns another issue that could easily touch many
of us: violence against women on college campuses and the careless manner in
which the perpetrators are allowed to get away.
Hannah did not go missing from the actual
grounds of UVA, but the man who has been arrested in connection with her
disappearance, Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., seems to have a history of sexual
assaults on college campuses: In 2002 and 2003 he was accused of sexually assaulting students at two universities in Virginia, Liberty University in Lynchburg and
Christopher Newport University.
I can’t stop thinking about so many parents who sit and wait in agony because they’re waiting for their children to come home.
According to school officials, Matthew, who was on the football team at both universities, left each school after the
allegations and neither resulted in charges being brought against him.
Authorities are saying there is DNA
evidence that links Matthew to yet another crime: the 2009 death of Morgan
Harrington, a Virginia Tech college student who went missing after a concert and
whose body was later discovered on a farm near campus.
If Matthew is indeed guilty of the campus
rapes, it makes me wonder: If he was arrested a dozen years ago, would Morgan
still be alive and would Hannah’s parents have their daughter home with them?
I can’t stop thinking about this question,
and about the safety of our kids while they’re at school. I can’t stop thinking
about how many of the others who commit these campus
assaults – and then are allowed to walk free – may go on to commit other
violent crimes. I can’t stop thinking about so many parents who sit and wait in
agony because they’re waiting for their children to come home.
I can’t stop thinking about Hannah, because
she could be my daughter, too.