Date: November 3, 2009
To: All U.Va. Students
From: Patricia M. Lampkin, Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer
Subject: Please Read: Safety Reminders
More than two weeks ago, you received an alert from University Police about the disappearance of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington on Oct. 17. Unfortunately, Ms. Harrington, who disappeared during the Metallica concert at John Paul Jones Arena, still has not been found. Our hearts go out to her family and friends at this very difficult time. Ms. Harrington’s parents and brother are U.Va. alumni.
New information about the search for Ms. Harrington is posted on the University’s home page as soon as it is received. The latest information from law enforcement consists of an Oct. 28 press release from the Virginia State Police detailing a timeline of events connected with Ms. Harrington’s disappearance. Law enforcement officials are continuing to pursue any leads they receive.
As requested by the University Police and the Virginia State Police, anyone with any piece of information, however small, is encouraged to contact them. Web sites, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses are posted on the University’s Emergency Web page: http://www.virginia.edu/emergency/harrington.html
The site also includes downloadable flyers, in both English and Spanish, that the public is encouraged to post wherever possible.
The University Police will continue to issue alerts, if warranted, to the University community. At this time, they have no reason to suspect that Ms. Harrington’s disappearance was anything other than an isolated incident or that community members need to take steps beyond those they already should be taking to protect themselves.
Please recognize that safety is both a personal and community goal. You are encouraged to take a moment to review general safety guidelines, which are useful at any time and in any situation. The University Police offer these reminders:
- 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 on Grounds, just pick up one of the blue light telephones. You automatically will be connected to University Police.
- Validate or update your local and emergency contact information in the Student Information System (SIS). You will be prompted to update this information in the SIS when you register for spring courses. The University relies on this information to contact you in the event of an emergency, and to communicate with you regarding official University business.
- 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.
The routes and schedules can be found at: http://www.virginia.edu/parking/service/latenight.html
- 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.
- Keep doors and windows locked.
- Use outdoor lighting.
- Trim shrubs and trees to prevent the possibility of prowlers hiding in dense, darkened areas.
- 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.
REPORTING A BIAS INCIDENT
- If you or someone you know witnesses a bias incident, help is available. The Bias Incident Web site provides complete details on how to report the incident, what constitutes bias, and what you can expect in response from the University: http://www.virginia.edu/justreportit/.
SIGN UP FOR U.VA. ALERTS
- If you have not already signed up, please go to https://www.virginia.edu/uvaalerts/ and register for emergency messages. The University will send both text alerts and e-mail messages in the event of an imminent safety threat on or near Grounds. Your information will be used only in rare instances for emergency communication.
Finally, if you are concerned about your personal safety, you are encouraged, as always, to speak with a Resident Assistant (if living in U.Va. housing), a member of the Office of the Dean of Students staff, or a counselor in the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services.
Patricia M. Lampkin
Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer