While early August is normally a relatively quiet time on the UVA Grounds, that was not the case a year ago, and it is not the case this year. For this reason, I am writing to bring you up to date on important safety matters and to share with you messages your student recently has received.
This coming weekend of August 10-12 marks one year since the University and city of Charlottesville became the focus of national and international attention. The violent actions of white supremacist and neo-Nazi marchers on Grounds and in downtown Charlottesville resulted in the deaths of three people, injuries to several others (including students struck by the same car that killed Heather Heyer), and emotional pain for those who witnessed the events in person or in the media.
As a University, we have been committed for a long time to making safety a priority. Since last year, the city and University have adopted new policies and protocols. New safety precautions are in place, and new policies seek to appropriately balance important free speech rights in a public institution with a safety-oriented framework for when, where, and how protests may occur on our Grounds.
Given the upcoming one-year anniversary of last year's events, the University has been working with local, state, and national officials to prepare for this weekend. As we are telling your student, it is unpredictable what may transpire. We can say with certainty that this will not be a normal weekend in Charlottesville.
Students have received two messages so far about the weekend, and earlier today, University Dean of Students Allen Groves sent the message to upperclass and graduate students (he sent a slightly different version to new first-year and transfer students).
Taking responsibility for one's personal safety is one of the primary messages being shared with students who may be on Grounds or in Charlottesville this weekend. Dean Groves has listed a variety of available resources where students can receive up-to-date information about activities in the city or at UVA. Since Summer Session ends on Friday and undergraduate classes are not yet in session, students who are here should familiarize themselves with all of these resources and how to learn if operating changes occur.
On Saturday morning, in recognizing the one-year anniversary, the University is hosting a program, "The Hope that Summons Us: A Morning of Reflection and Renewal" from 9 to 10 a.m. The program is being live-streamed through virginia.edu/live and through the University's Facebook page; I invite you to watch. If you entered the lottery to attend the event and received a ticket, then you have received an email with further details, including security measures that will be in place.
We are looking forward to the start of the new academic year later this month when the Grounds will truly come back to life with the arrival of all our students. We remain grateful for your support as parents and for sharing your students with us.
Patricia M. Lampkin
Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer