I realize I’ve been emailing you a bit more than usual this semester, largely due to our basketball team’s historic run to the NCAA Championship. However, I do need to ask for a moment of your time for a quick message regarding safe choices as the semester winds down.
Some of you may be considering attending the Foxfield Races in Albemarle County next Saturday, April 27. While the event is not affiliated with, or sanctioned by, the University, I recognize it presents an opportunity for a good time with friends and thus draws many students each year. However, as with any large gathering where alcohol is present, there are also very real concerns around public safety. There will be a significant law enforcement presence on Albemarle County roads leading to Foxfield and within the event grounds itself. These uniformed officers, in conjunction with a private safety team at the event, will focus on assisting individuals in need of help and deterring and responding to unlawful activity.
Other students may be considering attending different large-scale events this weekend and throughout the remaining days of the semester, including the “Something in the Water” festival in Virginia Beach on April 26-28. I ask you to think carefully about your own personal safety plan if you plan to attend this event or something similar. Large events have a demonstrated potential for negative (and highly serious) incidents to occur, including acute alcohol intoxication, poisoning from substances ingested without clear knowledge of their origin or chemical composition, and other risks inherent in large crowds of individuals you do not know, such as physical or sexual assault, robbery, and related risks. I ask you to approach any large-scale event with a clear understanding of the potential risks and a plan on how you will protect yourself and your friends. In short, I want you to enjoy these remaining few weeks and make many happy memories, but I ask you to do so with an eye to personal safety as well.
Of course, there are alternatives to the Foxfield Races and the Virginia Beach festival. Picnicking on the Lawn, watching the sunrise from Humpback Rock, or attending a student-sponsored event or UVA athletic competition are just a few examples. If you are a graduating student, some of your best memories will come from time spent with close friends before you walk the Lawn in a few weeks and head out into the larger world to begin the next stage of your life.
I have tremendous confidence in you and I trust you to make responsible choices as citizen-leaders within the UVA and surrounding community. You recently demonstrated the “high road” when celebrating our NCAA Basketball Championship, showing the country and world the respectful nature of our student culture.
I wish you the very best as you finish the academic year.
Allen W. Groves
University Dean of Students