Date: March 7, 2013
To: All U.Va. Students
From: Patricia M. Lampkin, Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer
Re: Planning for Spring Break
With Spring Break starting on Friday, I am writing to remind you about the importance of personal safety, whether you are heading home, traveling somewhere else or staying in Charlottesville:
- Always carry an ID with you.
- Stay with friends, especially if you are in an unfamiliar area.
- Think basic safety wherever you are: Check emergency exits in your hotel. Know the local telephone numbers (usually 911) to get help in a hurry. Do not ride with drivers who have been drinking. Always wear your seatbelt.
- Use only licensed and regulated taxis.
- Be familiar with the laws, customs and standards in a given country or state. Even in the United States, alcohol laws can vary by state.
- If you are staying on Grounds or in Charlottesville, recognize that fewer students in the area may invite more criminal activity. Do not walk alone late at night. Report suspicious activity by calling 911. Be familiar with altered schedules for U.Va. buses and U.Va. Dining.
- Before leaving town, lock the doors and windows of your apartment, house or room. Draw the curtains or shades so valuables will not be visible. If feasible, take valuables with you.
Traveling beyond the U.S.
If you are traveling overseas with a program that is not affiliated with the University, give your parents or other contacts complete details on where you will be and how they can reach you. The University, for example, does not maintain lists or details regarding Alternative Spring Break trips since they are not official University programs.
A good resource to check before traveling overseas is the U.S. Department of State's Spring Break website. Emergency guidelines, travel advisories and alerts, and country-specific information are all available there.
In addition, the State Department encourages travelers to register through its Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to facilitate communication in the event of an emergency. A Smart Traveler app also is available.
Too much alcohol in a short period of time can lead to alcohol poisoning. Other factors (your gender, weight or an empty stomach) can also lead to serious medical complications. Remember the signs of alcohol poisoning, using "PUBS" and get help by calling 911 if a friend is in trouble:
P = Pulse: Should be between 50 and 140 beats per minutes, not irregular.
U = Unresponsive: Does not respond to a firm pinch.
B = Breathing: Should be at least 9 breaths per minute, not shallow and slow.
S = Skin: Should not be cold, clammy or blue.
Risks of Drink Spiking
When you are in unfamiliar surroundings, especially overseas, the risk of drug-facilitated crimes often increases. Individuals intent on committing serious crimes such as sexual assault, robbery and kidnapping use a variety of drugs, often placed into beverages or sometimes food, to induce unconsciousness and amnesia.
Please consider these safety suggestions:
- Never accept open beverage containers, especially from someone you do not know and trust and especially in certain environments such as night clubs, bars and parties.
- Never leave an open drink unwatched. Keep it in your hands at all times. Criminals will attempt to distract potential victims by creating diversions, working in teams with one asking a question and the other drugging the victim's beverage, or simply spiking the victim's beverage when he or she leaves a table momentarily.
- Bottled drinks and sealed cans are the safest. Ask to open the bottle or can yourself, or watch it being opened. Recognize, however, that bottles can be recapped.
- Beware of free samples of drinks and foods. If the person offering becomes insistent, simply refuse.
- If you think a drink tastes odd or looks unusual, throw it away.
- Always travel with one person in the group who is not drinking beverages containing alcohol.
- A negative result on test kits advertised to detect drug-spiked drinks does not guarantee that a drink has not been drugged.
If my colleagues or I can be of assistance to you, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com. Best wishes for a fun, safe and restful Spring Break.
Patricia M. Lampkin
Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer