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Date: Jan. 31, 2010

To: All U.Va. Students

From: Patricia M. Lampkin

Subject: Safety Reminders

Dear Students:

The discovery Tuesday morning of the remains of Morgan Dana Harrington, the Virginia Tech student who had been missing since Oct. 17 after leaving a concert at John Paul Jones Arena, brought profound grief to her family and friends and sadness to two university communities.

At Virginia Tech, where Morgan, 20, was a junior education major, President Charles Steger said the news took away hope for a happy ending.

This news also brings with it a reminder that while the Charlottesville area is considered to be safe, bad things can and do happen. And college-age students are particularly vulnerable.

In the midst of their grief, Morgan's parents, Dan and Gil, and their son Alex, a U.Va. alum, continue to advocate campus safety and the need for students to take personal safety seriously.

They are especially concerned that the person responsible for their daughter's death may remain in our community and they want to remind students to be on alert.

In an interview last week, the Harringtons said that women especially are at risk when they walk or jog alone.

"We didn't want Morgan to go out by herself alone," her father said. "There are so many things that if we could change, we would have a different outcome."

It is a heart-breaking reminder to us all.

While I have included a more comprehensive safety checklist at the end of this e-mail, I would like to remind you of a few key things that should be part of your routine as you travel on Grounds and in the surrounding community.

  • Please do not walk alone after dark. If you have no choice, call a friend before venturing out to let her or him know what route you are taking.
  • Please do not get into a car unless you know the driver.
  • Please do not get into a taxi unless you are sure that it is a registered taxi with a meter.
  • Please get involved. If you see a fellow student in need of help, offer it. Do not leave another incapacitated student alone, whether or not you know her or him. If you cannot offer immediate assistance, call 911.
  • Please rely on University Police if you are in distress or believe you are in danger. If you have been drinking, are not able to travel on your own, and/or feel vulnerable or threatened, call 911 immediately. Never hesitate to contact University Police. They are trained to help our students and they would rather you call them – even if the situation turns out not to be dire – than not. Remember, calling UPD is always the safest option.

Nothing is more important in our University community than your safety and security. Safety, however, should be a personal as well as a community goal.

One way to honor Morgan Harrington's life is to become an advocate for safety on college campuses, here and elsewhere. Please feel free to share this message with your friends at colleges and universities around the country.

For those who knew Morgan personally and might be grieving her loss, know that there is counseling support available through the University's Counseling and Psychological Services at 243-5150.

I encourage each of you to take a moment to review the additional general safety guidelines included below. These are useful at any time and in any situation.


Patricia M. Lampkin
Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer


Additional safety guidelines from University Police

Summoning Help

  • Call 911 from any phone, including your cell phone. You will be connected to a regional dispatcher who will send help based on your location.
  • If you are on Grounds, just pick up one of the blue light telephones. You automatically will be connected to University Police.

Personal Safety

  • Trust your instincts about a person or situation. If you feel uncomfortable, immediately report your concerns to police by calling 911.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Remember that talking on a cell phone or listening to music can be distracting, especially if you are crossing the street or not paying attention to your surroundings.
  • Avoid isolated areas.
  • Avoid walking alone at night. Use SafeRide, walk with friends, or take a late-night weekend bus.
    • SafeRide provides service between midnight and 6 a.m. from Sunday night through Friday morning. On Saturdays and Sundays, SafeRide operates from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. The telephone number is 434-242-1122.
    • Late-night buses: Service for University buses is extended every weekend until 2:30 a.m. when school is in session. View the routes and schedules.
  • Use the lighted pathway system.
  • Tell a friend where you are going and when you will return.
  • Remember that alcohol use can dull judgment and lead to a false sense of security. When going out to a party, create a plan ahead of time with friends so you watch out for one another and get home safely.

Residence Hall Safety

  • Never allow strangers to follow you into the building.
  • Call 911 if you see someone in the building who seems suspicious.
  • Never prop open card-reader doors or leave room doors open.
  • Secure doors and windows prior to leaving.

Home/Apartment Safety

  • Keep doors and windows locked.
  • Use outdoor lighting.
  • Trim shrubs and trees to prevent the possibility of prowlers hiding in dense, darkened areas.
  • Close curtains or pull blinds at night.
  • Do not hesitate to contact police, by calling 911, about a person or situation that does not seem right. You will not have to give your name to police.
  • If you see any of the following, immediately call the police at 911: a prowler; someone peeping into a residence; an individual who appears to be unauthorized and watching, photographing or filming an area; or any other suspicious behavior.
  • Work with your neighbors and fellow community members to ensure a safe environment.

Posted 1/31/10

Housing Decisions for Undergraduate Students


Deciding where to live is a major decision for undergraduate students. When he spoke to parents during Family Weekend on Oct. 17, President John Casteen covered several important points about both on-Grounds and off-Grounds housing for students:


  • Main thing for parents and students to know: plenty of space is available, both on and off Grounds. No reason for students to feel pressured into signing a lease. 
  • Since 2002, approximately 3,000 new bedrooms have been added to the local Charlottesville-area apartment housing inventory.  About half (1,500) added since 2005.
  • Nov. 14 is deadline for students to apply for rooms in residential colleges and language houses.  [Note: The deadline for Hereford Residential College has been extended to Nov. 23.]
  • Dec. 1 is application deadline for rising second-years who want to live on Grounds and for upperclass students who want to keep the same room on Grounds.
  • Parents will have time to review on-Grounds housing options with their daughters/sons over the winter break.  Housing will send offers to students on Dec. 8, but they will not be required to accept until Jan. 22.
  • One important factor for students who want to study abroad: on-Grounds leases are canceled for these students for the study-abroad period.
  • Many options for on-Grounds housing:  three residential college programs, 10 language house programs, four apartment-style complexes that offer the additional support of the Resident Staff program, and one upper-class facility that is suite-style with single rooms.
  • As for off-Grounds living:
    • Lease-signing started Oct. 1.
    • ALL landlords are requiring 12-month leases.
    • Lease terms are June to June, or August to August.
    • It’s nearly impossible to sublet for the summer (much more availability than demand).
    • Parents/students should expect to pay approximately $600 per month plus utilities, plus another $50 (approximate) for parking.
  • To enhance safety of students living off-Grounds, the University pays for a full-time City of Charlottesville property maintenance inspector to address health, fire, and other concerns.
  • This official meets biweekly with the off-Grounds housing manager, who works with Student Council, and monthly with University representatives.
  • Students in off-Grounds housing should first contact their landlord or property manager with safety concerns.
  •  If problems are not corrected in timely manner, then contact the inspector for assistance.  (Contact info is in the 2009 Parents Handbook, page 26.)


Posted 11/5/09

Safety: An Ongoing Priority at the University

Siren System Testing - As part of emergency planning efforts, the University regularly tests its siren and public address system.

Similar to sirens installed at other institutions in Virginia, around the country, and on military bases, the U.Va. system is capable of sounding an alert and broadcasting messages and instructions.

The siren is one of several tools that would be used in the event of an emergency, explains Marge Sidebottom director of emergency preparedness. Other tools include mass e-mails to all students and members of the U.Va. community, opt-in text messages, an emergency Web site, and messages on LCD screens in strategic buildings such as Newcomb Hall and the Aquatic and Fitness Center.

Sidebottom says that being prepared for an emergency means constantly reviewing plans, adjusting where needed, and applying lessons learned here at the University or elsewhere.


Residence Hall Fire Safety — The University's Office of Environmental Health and Safet, in conjunction with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, conducts fire safety inspections in the residence halls. In addition, fire drills are conducted throughout the year.

To ensure a safe environment several items are restricted in residence hall rooms; guidelines are posted on the Housing Web site.

Please note : Students are required to check their smoke detectors once a week.


Off-Grounds SafetyThe University’s Off-Grounds Housing Office offers a variety of services for students living in non-University housing; leasing information, available housing, etc. Additionally, this office works closely with the Office of Environmental Health and Safety and the City of Charlottesville’s Property Maintenance Office to assist students with general safety issues, fire safety concerns, property maintenance, and more. Information and safety brochures are available here.


U.Va. Alerts — All students are encouraged to sign up for emergency text alerts sent to their cell phones. Students may add a parent's cellphone number as a secondary number to receive alerts. Sign-up is available online.

Updated June 24, 2009

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Last Modified: 29-Apr-2010 17:29:04 EDT | © Copyright 2018 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia