Dear Parents of New Students:
As you prepare to bring your son or daughter to Charlottesville for the beginning of the fall semester, I write to welcome you to the University family.
Your student is joining a community that holds a unique place among American universities. From their first day on the Grounds, students enter a community of trust in which opportunity and responsibility go hand-in-hand, as they participate in longstanding systems of self-governance and honor. We expect students to treat one another with respect while seeking to understand and appreciate their classmates who come from different backgrounds. We encourage collaboration as students enjoy close interaction with faculty members. UVA combines the best aspects of liberal arts education with the vast resources of a major research university, and this distinctive combination creates wonderful opportunities for students to work closely with professors while pursuing research.
Your son or daughter will face challenges here, both academic and personal. Taking on the pressure of a heavy academic work load, meeting new people, encountering new adult freedoms, and striving to fit in with a new culture are serious adjustments for students. I will talk with you about these and other issues during my welcome address to parents. Because some students move in on Friday and others do so on Saturday, we will have two welcome sessions: the first on Friday, August 19, from 3 to 4 p.m., and another on Saturday, August 20, from 1 to 2 p.m., with both sessions in Old Cabell Hall. Please plan to come to the session that works best for your family's schedule.
During new students' first weekend at UVA, they will have many opportunities to participate in fun social activities and to learn about UVA's culture and traditions. However, you should be aware of one event that your son or daughter should avoid. Each year for the past several years, on the Saturday night of opening weekend, there has been a massive, off-Grounds block party in the area along Wertland Street, which is near The Corner. UVA neither sanctions nor supports this event, yet it continues to draw thousands of students to a chaotic, overcrowded party scene that lasts into the morning hours. This environment can be hazardous for students, especially for those who are new to UVA and new to college life generally. Please encourage your student to avoid the block party and to participate instead in UVA-planned activities that evening, which will include a major concert at the John Paul Jones Arena, a concert after-party with free food, activities at UVA's Aquatics and Fitness Center, and programs in the first-year residence halls hosted by resident advisors.
As your son or daughter gets started here, I encourage you to become involved in the numerous activities that are available to parents and family members, both on and off Grounds. You will have many opportunities to participate in your local community through UVAClubs and also to be part of our lifelong learning activities. To find out more about staying connected, visit our family Web portal. The Parent Handbook provides valuable details about student self-governance, housing and residence life, technology, and other aspects of student life. You can download and print a PDF. The handbook also is available online in Chinese and Spanish.
The Parents Fund Committee supports student organizations, safety and health, diversity, and parent resources. Funding recipients have included alcohol abuse prevention programs, club sports and arts groups, and the Career Center, among other programs. The Parents Fund Committee works particularly hard to ensure student safety. The Committee has supported a Global Positioning System (GPS) for our bus system, among many other safety projects. I encourage you to get involved.
Finally, let me offer some practical advice. Many families pack small items that require assembly, and so I recommend that you bring some simple tools with you, such as a flat-head screwdriver and a Phillips screwdriver. A roll of duct tape can prove useful. And because residence hall rooms are small, using a tape measure might save you some frustration. Please be sure that your student brings details of any medical prescriptions and that you have given your student contact information for doctors and dentists. These simple steps will make Move-In Day less stressful and help your student get off to a good start at UVA.
I look forward to meeting you in a few weeks.
Very truly yours,
Teresa A. Sullivan