Date: November 14, 2012
To: All U.Va. Students
From: Patricia M. Lampkin, Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer
Re: Clarification of Communication around Criminal Activity and Reminders for Tomorrow
I am writing to offer some clarification around an issue that has been the topic of discussion in recent days. This is also a good opportunity to remind you of personal safety as many of us prepare to cheer on the Cavaliers in the season's last home football game tomorrow evening, Nov. 15.
First, the issue at hand: Questions and considerable discussion have focused on the absence of communication following an incident last week in which an alleged assailant, who was arrested shortly after the incident, attempted to abduct a U.Va. student who was walking home to her residence hall. That incident occurred on city property adjacent to the University (specifically Stadium Road). Because the location of the crime fell under the jurisdiction of the city, the Charlottesville Police Department led the investigation and issued a press release to local media. University Police did not issue a mass email to students and the rest of the community because the circumstances did not meet all three criteria of the Clery Act, a federal law that applies to virtually all higher education institutions and is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education. In an effort to issue communication that is effective yet does not become diluted over time, UPD seeks to apply Clery guidelines in a strict and consistent manner.
When crimes are directed toward students or other members of the University community, University Police follow a prescribed procedure under the Clery Act for communicating with the community through mass email. Clery guidelines include three criteria: 1. the crime occurred on or very close to the institution's property, 2. the crime is one of several that appear on a list published by the education department, and 3. the suspect (or suspects) is still at large and there is a continuing threat to the community. If all three criteria are present, then University Police issue a mass email to students, faculty, and staff.
As far as last week, the assailant was taken into custody early Friday morning, Nov. 9, very shortly after the incident occurred. Certain details about the assailant and this case emerged over the course of time and have been reported in this week's editions of the Cavalier Daily. The fact that the assailant had been employed with a University contractor, which was disclosed by the Cavalier Daily, ultimately would not affect the criteria used by University Police to determine whether information about the incident was communicated to the community.
At the same time, it is understandable that this incident raises concerns. While our police will continue to apply a stringent test for communication, we recognize that such incidents are of keen interest to the University community. In the future, the University will be looking at ways to present similar information in a manner that is helpful but also matched to the immediate circumstances.
More on Safety
This is a busy time of year as we head into the stretch before Thanksgiving break. A nighttime game brings special challenges and safety issues. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of making safety part of your daily routine. On special occasions such as tomorrow night, personal responsibility for safety is even more important. The game will bring heavy traffic and thousands of visitors to town. Celebrating will be on the minds of many students and visitors.
In terms of safety, whether tomorrow night or anytime, these are good basic steps to observe:
The University Police Department offers training in self-defense and personal safety. Since January, officers have conducted more than 40 sessions for students, and additional sessions are scheduled for coming months. One session is taking place this Friday, Nov. 16, at 4 p.m. in the Green Room at Runk Dining Hall (any student may come - no registration necessary). If you would like to participate in similar sessions in the future or if you would like to schedule training for your student group, contact Officer Angela Tabler at email@example.com. More information is available at www.virginia.edu/uvapolice/resources.html.
We are all committed to building a safe community. Best wishes for a safe week followed by a restful Thanksgiving break.
Patricia M. Lampkin
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Last Modified: Wednesday, 14-Nov-2012 17:08:14 EST
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