Date: May 14, 2010
To: Parents of All U.Va. Students
Subject: Year-end Message to U.Va. Parents
Over the course of this year, I have written you several times in an effort to keep you updated on student life at U.Va. Because student health and safety are critical to me and to all of us who work with students, my e-mails usually have focused on these topics, particularly ways in which you can help reinforce precautions that your daughter or son can take as far as personal safety and health.
In this last message of the school year, I write knowing that, as members of the extended U.Va. family, your thoughts have focused even more sharply on student safety over the past 10 days. The death of fourth-year student Yeardley Love at the suspected hands of another student has stunned our community and left a deep sense of grief and loss. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to her family, her friends, and to everyone affected by this tragedy.
University leaders have been communicating with students and other members of the community since last week. You can find a compilation of messages, including the letter you should have received from President John Casteen, at http://www.virginia.edu/virginia/messages.html. In particular, I want to draw your attention to an e-mail that I sent to students on Thursday, May 6. This message details counseling services and forms of support available to students through the University and elsewhere in the Charlottesville area, along with telephone numbers and Web sites. The message also describes ways to deal with grief, signs of depression, indicators of an abusive relationship, and the detrimental effects of alcohol and other drugs. I encourage you to read the message, and, if you feel it would be helpful, to discuss its contents with your daughter or son. He or she may want to save or bookmark the message for future reference.
We recognize it may take students weeks or months to emotionally process the impact of this tragedy, which follows an already stressful year. With summer upon us and so many students leaving as a result of graduation, heading home, or going elsewhere, we feel a heightened sense of concern for their health. We want to make sure that you are aware of this concern should you see changes in your son’s or daughter’s behavior.
We also ask for your help in continuing to reinforce safety measures, especially during this post-exam period when students may be headed to the beach or other spots for relaxation and celebration. Reinforcing these messages can be a challenge for all of us who work with, and deeply care about, young people. They tend to take risks and often think they are immune to crime and danger. Our approach is to help them navigate their emerging independence but also instill a sense of personal responsibility, not only for themselves but also for their friends.
Our safety messages directed toward students tend to be very basic, but they merit continual reinforcement and repetition. Locking apartment doors and residence hall rooms, for example, is so important, but many students fail to do this. We continue to caution students to pay attention to their surroundings, not to let cellphone calls and music distract them being safe (such as when crossing the street), to tell friends where they are going, and above all, to call 911 if they notice anything suspicious or find themselves or their friends in immediate danger. As we get ready for Summer Orientation and look ahead to the fall, we will be examining ways in which we can expand and enhance our already extensive educational efforts around health and safety.
One important message that we will convey to students in the future is the importance of coming forward if they witness behavior that is abusive or in any way troubling to them. My May 6 e-mail details ways to report such behavior, including the University’s online bias incident reporting system, “Just Report It.”
Finally, I want to state that the criminal investigation into Yeardley Love’s death is ongoing and that the University is cooperating fully with law enforcement. If you discover that your daughter or son has information relative to the case, then he or she is encouraged to contact the city of Charlottesville Police at 434-970-3280 or Crimestoppers at 434-977-4000. Callers to Crimestoppers may remain anonymous. Likewise, the investigation continues into the death of Morgan Harrington, the Virginia Tech student whose body was found in January after she had gone missing in October from a concert at John Paul Jones Arena. Both of these tragic losses have weighed heavily on our community, and they will have an impact on how we plan programming and communications around safety in the future.
In closing, I want to thank you for your support throughout this year. We truly view you as part of the extended U.Va. family, and we value your partnership in the educational process.
Best wishes for the summer, and please let me know if I or any member of my staff in Student Affairs can be of assistance to you.
Patricia M. Lampkin
Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer
Note: Residence halls will be closing for the semester at noon on Saturday, May 15. The Housing Web site provides helpful information about the closing process. Two charity drives – Chuck It for Charity for students living on Grounds, and the Sofa Shuffle for students living off Grounds -- will be taking place. If your daughter or son wants to get rid of furniture, appliances, or clothing, this is a good way both to help the community and clear out unwanted possessions.
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Last Modified: Friday, 14-May-2010 16:37:44 EDT
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