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An Update for UVA Parents

August 15, 2017
To: 
Parents of University Students
From: 
Patricia M. Lampkin, Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer

Dear Parents:

We remain as enthusiastic as ever about the arrival this week of our new and returning students. It will be our privilege to serve as a continuing resource for them and to provide a safe, welcoming, and richly diverse environment for them to pursue their interests and aspirations. At the same time, the emotions of this past weekend remain very raw. Anger, fear, sadness, and disbelief have been left behind in the wake of the violence and hate brought here, largely by outsiders representing the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and other white supremacist groups.

As a parent myself, who raised her family on the Lawn and continues to live there, I can imagine your own thoughts and concerns as you witnessed reports from Charlottesville. If you are the parent of a new student, those concerns add another layer to the already emotionally laden experience of leaving your daughter or son in a new environment. And for families of color or for those who feel targeted due to their religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or other personal attributes, those concerns multiply many times over.

If you have specific questions about Move-In Weekend, please refer to the Housing & Residence Life website and my prior message to new parents. We can assure you that hundreds of staff members; student leaders and volunteers; and police, both visible and not visible; will be here, focused and ready to serve you and your students. Move-in does require patience on everyone's part, but from past experience and feedback, we have solid procedures in place to ensure the weekend goes smoothly. This week, we are planning for any additional resources that may need to be deployed. In terms of existing safety resources, please take time to review the Student Safety Guide with your student. The guide summarizes the many resources that students should not hesitate to use, along with reminders about personal safety.

Despite the evil we witnessed this past weekend, our goals and approach to our work in the division of Student Affairs do not change. We will continue to strive to build a safe environment and provide experiences that will enable students to become thriving adults. We have strong systems in place for students to report instances of bias, and support for them in times of distress is available from a number of sources across the division. Students continue to receive—and lead—training and outreach about how to make wise, responsible decisions for their own safety as well as for friends and acquaintances. What we experienced and learned this weekend also calls us to strengthen our existing systems, identify gaps, and seek areas in which we can do more. Planning, preparation, and education remain our best defenses against hate and ignorance.

This past weekend's events are tragic. They also present opportunities for our community. The practice of open, civil dialogue has never been more vital. A longtime hallmark of the University of Virginia, such conversations often have incorporated our past and the historic exclusion or marginalization of certain groups. The work of building an inclusive, welcoming community is not over or complete. As eloquently stated by the Brody Jewish Center-Hillel at UVA, "There is much work to do to repair this broken world in which we live." We are committed to continuing this hard work and fostering critical dialogue, both inside and outside the classroom, with honesty, civility, and mutual respect. We are a strong, resilient community of trust. Each and every student contributes to this unique place because of their talents, intellect, and great promise.

As your daughter or son prepares to come to Charlottesville this week (and I recognize some are already here), please know we are committed to their well-being and success. We have already responded to a number of parent questions, and I invite you to reach out to us if you have special needs or concerns. Throughout the year, we will continue to communicate with you as needed, often asking for your partnership. We remain grateful to you for raising such outstanding young women and men and for sharing them with us.

Finally, I will emphasize that the great spirit of this University and community will endure without question. No amount of hatred and bigotry can erase the values we share. This event only strengthens our commitment to these values. In my 38 years here, it has always been the people—students, parents, faculty, staff, and alumni in all manner of diversity—who make not only our University, but also the world, a better place.

Sincerely,

Patricia M. Lampkin
Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer