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Letter to Parents
 

November 12, 2003

Dear Parents:

Two violent incidents involving students have occurred in the past two weekends near the University Grounds. In one case, a student has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of a 22-year-old resident of the Charlottesville area. In the second case, two students have been charged with felonious assault of another student. Investigations are being handled by the Charlottesville Police, with the University providing full information and assistance as needed.

In accordance with the University’s Standards of Conduct, the Dean of Students immediately issued an interim suspension to the student charged with murder. The suspect remains in police custody without bond.

Alleged acts of violence with such grave consequences are rare among U.Va. students. In the wake of these incidents, the University is taking steps to support students and ensure that student safety remains a priority.

Students most closely affected by these two incidents are receiving support and meeting individually with professionals from the Division of Student Affairs.

Members of the Counseling and Psychological Services team are available by appointment and after hours for any student seeking counseling. In addition, association and school deans are working with those students most closely affected and helping them make special arrangements for missed coursework.

Although nothing firmly indicates that physical violence is increasing among U.Va. students, anecdotal information and the prevalence of societal violence suggest this is an area we need to address. These two recent incidents have prompted us to take some immediate steps, and we currently are working on programs to help students recognize how to deal with potentially inflammatory situations and make rational choices when faced with conflict. We also will continue to remind students of the numerous services available to them:

• Office of the Dean of Students, 924-7427, www.virginia.edu/deanofstudents

• Counseling and Psychological Services, 243-5150 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; 972-7004 after 5 p.m. on weekdays or on weekends and holidays, http://www.virginia.edu/studenthealth/caps.html

• University Mediation Services, 982-4638, http://www.student.virginia.edu/~mediate/

• University Police, 911 in case of emergencies, 924-7166 at other times, http://www.virginia.edu/uvapolice/

Please help us by having a conversation with your daughter or son about these issues. Take time to remind them of basic measures to ensure their safety and the healthy resolution of conflicts:

• Above all, remind them to let common sense prevail. If they sense danger to themselves or to others, they should get away from the situation and get help.

• Impaired judgment, aggressive behavior and physical injury often result from alcohol abuse. Continue to talk with your student about the risks associated with irresponsible drinking. Without a clear head, common sense cannot prevail.

• If they find themselves in the midst of a confrontational situation, they should look for ways to defuse the situation instead of allowing the conflict to escalate. If they perceive a risk to their personal safety, they should remove themselves from the situation and immediately call 911.

• If students witness acts of violence, they should call 911.

• If they are with friends who have had too much to drink, they
should not leave those friends alone or allow them to endanger themselves or others. Again, help is available by calling 911.

• Students with any concerns, especially if they have been personally affected by these two recent incidents, should not hesitate to contact the Office of the Dean of Students or the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services.

We are grateful for your support as parents, and we remain as committed as ever to ensuring a safe and productive learning environment for your daughters and sons.

If you have questions or information, please feel free to e-mail me at vpsa@virginia.edu.

Sincerely,

 

Patricia M. Lampkin
Vice President for Student Affairs

 

 

   
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