Date: November 21, 2011
To: Parents of all U.Va. Students
From: Patricia M. Lampkin, Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer
Re: Please discuss with your U.Va. student over Thanksgiving
As the semester winds down and students prepare for the Thanksgiving break, I am writing to suggest a conversation that you might have with your daughter or son regarding health and safety.
Late fall can be a time of high stress as well as excitement for students. Classes are ending, exams and papers are on the horizon, the holidays and break are approaching. It can be easy for students to cut corners when it comes to sleep, nutrition and keeping up good habits.
If there are opportunities for celebration, then students may use these times to blow off steam and temporarily forget about their health and safety. They may do impulsive things that they wouldn't ordinarily do.
This coming weekend's football game against Virginia Tech, the final game of the season, will be an exciting one. In addition to playing our longtime state rival, U.Va.'s team will end a victorious season marked by several cliffhanger wins, including this past weekend's one-point win over Florida State.
If your student is coming back early for the Virginia Tech game, please remind her or him to have fun but in a safe, sensible way. Several specific points:
- Rushing the field after the game is absolutely prohibited. This is a dangerous practice that could lead to injuries or even fatalities.
- Students who are of legal age and choose to drink should eat before drinking and ensure that only nondrinking friends are behind the wheels of vehicles.
- Students should monitor friends who have been drinking, and if they are concerned, they should seek medical help by calling 911. Neither student will face reprisal for seeking medical attention.
- Intoxication is harmful because of how it affects the body, but it also can lead to injuries from falls or other accidents. Many visits to the Emergency Department are due to injuries resulting from intoxication.
- Impaired judgment from drinking can put an individual in harm's way, inviting harmful or criminal activity. Under the influence of alcohol or drugs, some situations and individuals that seem safe are in fact not safe.
- An arrest due to drinking, such as public intoxication, will follow a student into the future, possibly affecting decisions by future employers.
- Finally, a word about a dangerous practice known as the "fourth-year fifth." A handful of fourth-year students attempt to consume an entire fifth of liquor on game day. Needless to say, this is a very dangerous decision. A fifth of 80-proof liquor (17 drinks) can be fatal. Seventeen drinks spaced evenly over six hours can result in a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.32 for a 160-pound man and 0.42 for a 130-pound woman. Most people lose consciousness and other bodily functions start to shut down at a BAC of more than 0.30, and a BAC of 0.40 or more is generally lethal. Read President Teresa Sullivan's recent message to fourth-year students.
Beyond Saturday's game, please remind your student of other good habits to follow at all times:
- Cross the street at appropriate crosswalks and do not let a phone conversation or listening to music be a distraction.
- Wear a helmet when biking. Although not required by law, local police suggest helmets. At least two accidents have occurred this year involving bicyclists.
- Lock doors and windows in the residence hall or apartment. When leaving for break, draw curtains and shades. Take valuables home.
While you know you know your daughter or son best, I encourage you to discuss this message with her or him. Even the best students, who do take personal safety seriously, can be influenced by a celebratory mood. It is also important for them to know how to approach friends or acquaintances who may need medical attention.
The safety and health of our students is my highest priority. I am grateful for your help in reinforcing these messages with your daughters and sons. Best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving and an enjoyable time with your student.
Patricia M. Lampkin
Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer