I hope you have enjoyed your summer break and are looking forward to a new academic year. If you have already returned to Grounds or will do so later this week, I ask you to take a few minutes to read this important message.
Last year, the weekend of August 11-12 ruptured any sense of late-summer peace and normalcy for our University and the broader local community. This weekend marks one year since those ugly events. 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 a great deal of emotional pain for many who witnessed the events in person or in the media.
The intervening months have led to study, reflection, and changes in University and city 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. Despite all that occurred last August, our community has displayed remarkable resilience. We still face racism and other deeply disturbing issues as a broader community, and while positive gains have been made, eradicating these stains on society remains an unfulfilled goal. As we continue this important work, the University must always remain committed to the values of mutual respect, inclusion, and diversity that define us as a community of scholars.
Preparation for this Weekend
On a practical level, the University, city of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Commonwealth of Virginia, and federal partners have been engaged for some time in preparation for this anniversary weekend, adopting a unified plan around law enforcement, coordination with state and national resources, and monitoring for any activity that may lead to violence or threaten the safety of citizens. The University is an active partner with these entities on matters of public safety.
Despite the best planning and preparation, it remains unknown what may transpire over the weekend. We do know this will not be a normal weekend in Charlottesville. The city is exercising an abundance of caution, with plans already under way to close streets to vehicular traffic in areas near Downtown Charlottesville. Officials have said they will respond quickly to changing situations in the interest of public safety.
Individual Preparation and Responsibility
If you do plan to be in the Charlottesville area later this week, individual preparation is vital. Please approach the weekend from a place of personal responsibility for safety. This includes learning as much as you can about safety measures, being smart about your activities, and staying in touch through social media about any emergency situations or changing conditions. A city-hosted website, #ResilientCville, is being updated regularly to keep citizens informed. Please check in with this website if you have questions about closures, programs, or other matters related to the weekend. In addition, be certain you are signed up to receive text messages via UVA Alerts.
Restrictions at UVA
As for the UVA Grounds, increased police and security staff will be visible throughout the weekend. The following restrictions will be in place for the Lawn and Rotunda:
- Access to certain areas of the upper plaza surrounding the statue on the north side of the Rotunda will be limited beginning Friday, August 10, at 5:00 p.m. through Monday, August 13, at 7:00 a.m.
- Access to the Lawn will be limited to Lawn residents and attendees for a ticketed event beginning Saturday, August 11, at 6:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon that day. If you entered the lottery for the event ("The Hope that Summons Us: A Morning of Reflection and Renewal") and were successful in securing a ticket, you will have received an email with further details about the event and security. The University's clear bag policy will be in effect. You also can watch the program via livestream on UVA's Facebook page or from the link embedded on virginia.edu/live.
- University Transit System will operate on Friday until 10 p.m., but there will be no service on Saturday or Sunday, in accordance with the normal summer schedule. Current plans call for Safe Ride to operate normally: Friday into Saturday morning (10 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.) and Saturday night into Sunday morning and Sunday night into Monday morning (12:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.). The UVA Operations Status Board will provide updates on any changes.
Dealing with Trauma and Anniversary Reactions
Many strong emotions remain concerning what occurred last year, and those emotions will resurface for many as the weekend approaches. According to our experts in Counseling & Psychological Services, the anniversary of a traumatic event can prompt a range of feelings. Distressing memories may cause people to feel as if they are reliving the event; some may become alert to the possibility the event might occur again. Regardless of whether personally witnessing violence or hearing about it through the media or other sources, some individuals will feel triggered as the weekend approaches.
CAPS has created a web page describing services they will be providing throughout the weekend, including drop-in support groups, walk-in support, and follow-up. This page also describes strategies for coping with trauma and related reactions. If you would benefit from making an appointment with a member of the CAPS team, please call them at 434-243-5150. After-hours help is available by calling this same number. Additionally, a number of Charlottesville community resources are available on the Help Happens Here website.
Below, you will find a list of quick reminders and resources you may find helpful for potential situations that could arise this weekend. This list also can be useful for other times, here or elsewhere.
In closing, I emphasize the importance of thinking carefully about your own safety if you will be in town this weekend. Public safety officials from the University, localities, and state will be present in increased numbers and in highly visible ways, but it is critical that each of us also considers their own personal safety plan and acts accordingly.
This is a welcoming community and no acts of violence or hatred by any individual or group can alter our core values and commitment to one another. Times of challenge often bring out the best in each of us and can certainly help us focus on the things that truly matter. We have much to look forward to in the coming academic year, including reconnecting with friends after the summer break. I look forward to welcoming a new class of incoming students in a few weeks, and to welcoming back those of you returning for another year at the University.
With warm regards to each of you,
Allen W. Groves
University Dean of Students
Reminders and Resources
If you see suspicious activity: Call 911
Sign up for UVA Alerts
Information about street closures, programming, or other details about the weekend of August 10-12
UVA Operations Status Board for schedule changes
- UVA social media:
Charlottesville community mental health resources
Office of Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights resources for a resilient UVA community
Office of the Dean of Students resources
UVA Submit a Tip to submit secure and anonymous tips to law enforcement at UVA
Just Report It system for reporting acts of bias that do not require immediate police intervention