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Important Message to Parents of Second-Year Students

August 9, 2016
To: 
Parents of Second-Year Students
From: 
Teresa A. Sullivan, President

Dear Parents of Second-Year Students:

I write to congratulate you and your student on the beginning of your student's second year at UVA. While the first year in college is often a time of academic and social adjustment, the second year provides new opportunities for intellectual growth, social maturation, and independence. In the second year, UVA students tend to take on increasing leadership roles and greater levels of responsibility. These are natural steps in the process of becoming adults.

The second year is also marked by potential pitfalls, such as the so-called "sophomore slump." Students may become more lax in their academic work, even if they managed to achieve a high GPA in their first year. Classes become more difficult in the second year, and students need to sustain or even elevate their commitment to their academic work. In the second year, students have not yet declared a major, but they will be required to do so by the end of the academic year. This looming decision can be a source of stress, particularly for students who pursue one of the more competitive majors such as the McIntire School or the Batten School. Students should have a back-up plan if they do not get their first-choice major; this will alleviate some of the anxiety around selection of major.

We also encourage second-year students to get an early start on arranging an internship or study-abroad activity for the summer of 2017. The UVA Career Center has an internship office in Newcomb Hall where students can get advice on internships. Students should plan to visit the Career Center early in the year. Those who start the process early tend to get better results. The Career Center also can help students who are curious about the career options for various majors.

Living arrangements frequently change in the second year. Fifty-seven percent of second-year students live off Grounds; of the remainder who remain on Grounds, many move from dorms to apartment-style housing such as the apartments at Lambeth Field. This change can bring new positive experiences, as well as new hazards, and students will need to take more responsibility for their own safety and security. If your student moves into off-Grounds housing, we encourage you to inspect the housing for appropriate safety systems such as smoke detectors and door locks, and remind your student to use those locks. If students travel to and from their housing to study or socialize at night, they should plan to travel in groups.

As we consider student safety at the beginning of the academic year, let me draw your attention to the Wertland block party that takes place on the Saturday night of Move-In Weekend. UVA neither sanctions nor supports this event, yet it draws thousands of people—not all of them our students—to a chaotic, overcrowded party scene that lasts into the morning hours. Underage drinking and excessive drinking and drug use have led to disruptive and criminal behavior in recent years. We believe the party is unsafe for our students. Law enforcement will be increased this year, and other officials who are charged with ensuring public safety will be monitoring the event.

Please encourage your student to avoid the block party and to participate instead in UVA-planned activities for that evening. Those activities will include a concert at the John Paul Jones Arena with musician J. Cole beginning at 9:00 pm. From 9:00 pm until 2:00 am, we will offer numerous sports and social activities at the Aquatic & Fitness Center, and Charlottesville food trucks and UVA Dining will be on hand with plenty of food options. From midnight to 2:00 am, free food also will be available in the Lambeth residential area.

In previous years, it has been reported to us that parents have bought alcohol for their underage students to host parties on Wertland. This practice is illegal and it could expose parents to serious legal liabilities. Even if you believe drinking would be safe for your own son or daughter, you cannot be certain it would be safe for other party-goers.

As the school year begins, all of our students, both men and women, need to be aware of the hazards of sexual violence. We know that the most dangerous time for sexual assault is the first few weeks of the academic year, the period known as the Red Zone. More than 50 percent of all reported sexual assaults on college campuses take place during this period. Last year, UVA was one of 27 universities to participate in a campus climate survey on sexual assault and other sexual misbehavior, and the results help us plan our education activities across the University community. From this survey, we have learned that at UVA, there is a peak in sexual assault among second-year students, whereas at other schools the peak typically occurred among first-year students. Please remind your sons and daughters that we do not tolerate any type of sexual misconduct at UVA, and ask them to make safety a top priority—their own safety as well as the safety of their classmates. Educational materials and resources are here.

I hope you will remain engaged in the life of the University during your student's second year. Family Weekend will be November 4-6, so please plan to participate. I look forward to seeing you around the Grounds.

Very truly yours,

Teresa A. Sullivan
President