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Information about UVA Communications with a Public Safety Component

October 17, 2017
To: 
Students, Faculty, and Staff
From: 
Patrick D. Hogan, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Due to recent events, there have been questions this fall about the various notifications that come from the University, and the circumstances that lead to a notification. In response, I write today to share information about the ways the University communicates with students, faculty, and staff about events that occur on and near Grounds that have a public safety component. 

The University is committed to providing information that will help members of our community take measures to protect their own safety. As smartphones and social media have put information in our hands 24/7, instant communication has become an expectation for many people. The University is the primary source of information for its community members for notifications about situations on Grounds or that immediately threaten the health or safety of students or employees who are on Grounds. We are a secondary source of information for circumstances or events that occur off Grounds. Because we all spend significant time off Grounds during the course of our daily lives, UVA community members should generally follow local agencies and news on social media and on the web for information about off-Grounds situations. This is especially helpful for students who live and work away from Grounds, in the greater Charlottesville community.

There are four types of safety communications that students, faculty, and staff may receive from the University, each with different criteria:

  1. Emergency Notifications are triggered by an emergency that is currently occurring or immediately threatening the health or safety of students or employees who are on Grounds. Emergency notifications will be sent in circumstances such as an approaching tornado, a gas leak, a terrorist incident, an armed intruder, a bomb threat, a chemical or hazardous materials spill, a fire or an explosion. The notifications are distributed through multiple channels including an email to all persons with an “@virginia.edu” account (including in the Health System), text messages (opt in to receive UVA Alerts), Alertus Desktop notifications (download Alertus application), PA/ siren systems, and LED/LCD signs across Grounds. University Police issue emergency notifications immediately upon confirmation that a dangerous situation or emergency exists so that community members can prepare and avoid any affected areas of Grounds. To gain the attention of recipients quickly, the words ‘UVA Emergency Alert’ will now be included in the subject line of all emergency notifications sent by email.

  2. Timely Warning Notifications are triggered by a crime that has already occurred and been reported within a geographic area of the University as prescribed by the federal law known as the Clery Act. These notifications are sent by email from the University’s Chief of Police to all persons with an “@virginia.edu” account (including in the Health System). Timely warning notifications may be sent following reports of a federally defined set of crimes that include crimes of the person (homicide, aggravated assault, rape, sexual assault), property crimes (robbery, burglary, motor vehicle theft), hate crimes, and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) offenses such as intimate partner violence and stalking. Timely Warning Notifications are issued as information is available to enable members of the University community to take measures to protect their own safety. These email notifications always include the words ‘Timely Warning’ in the subject line. See the UVA Clery Act website for more information.

  3. Community Alerts may be triggered by a crime that does not meet the criteria for a Timely Warning Notification, either because it occurs outside the geographic area or other parameters prescribed by the Clery Act. When a specific situation warrants alerting the community, the University sends an email to notify all persons with an “@virginia.edu” account (including in the Health System). These email notifications always include the words ‘Community Alert’ in the subject line. Community Alerts are issued as information is available to enable members of the University community to take measures to protect their own safety, remaining mindful of the need to respect ongoing police investigations.

  4. Community Advisories are issued as University officials become aware of circumstances or events in progress, including some that may be off Grounds, to acknowledge that we are aware and to provide notice to the University community that we are monitoring the situation. Community advisories also are used to provide notice of a change in the University’s operating schedule, such as in the case of snow storm. In these cases, the University sends an email to notify students and Academic Division employees of schedule changes. Medical Center and Academic Division schedules may differ, so Medical Center employees receive a separate communication via email. Information is posted on the Operations status board, which is linked from the University’s home page, and is available through dedicated phone lines (924-7669 and 243-7669). If the advisory is issued to provide information about circumstances or events in the community, such as the recent modified lockdown in Charlottesville City Schools and the drought warning, the University sends an email message to all “@virginia.edu” accounts (including those in the Health System). If the advisory relates to a time-sensitive event that does not meet the criteria for an emergency notification, the University may send mass email and post on official UVA social media accounts, if needed. Effective immediately, the words ‘Community Advisory’ will now be included in the subject line of these email messages

Safety is a shared responsibility. Please take a few moments to bookmark the UVA safety resources and websites for local agencies that are linked below so that you can easily access them when needs arise. My team and I review protocols frequently, and we will continue to help students and employees make informed decisions about their personal safety. Thank you for your interest in and attention to this important aspect of our safety procedures.

Sincerely,

Patrick D. Hogan
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

UVA Safety Resources

Local Agencies (links to social media accounts on websites)