I begin this message with a warm welcome. If you are an incoming first year or transfer student, we look forward to introducing you to the UVA family and all the opportunities that await you as a member of this special community. I've enjoyed meeting you and your parents over the summer, and I am anticipating the many ways in which you will contribute to the University and the surrounding community.
These first few days before classes begin are hectic, but they also offer a few moments for reflection about the upcoming year, reminding yourself of the goals you have set and how you would like the next few months to unfold. I recognize, too, the desire of many to celebrate being back with friends you haven't seen over the summer.
For several years, a group of house and apartment parties on Wertland Street have become a magnet for some seeking to connect with others at the start of the academic year. While the event is not in any way affiliated with, or sanctioned by, the University, it is a great concern for many of us, given the size of the crowd and the demonstrated potential for negative (and highly serious) incidents to occur. Sexual assault, dangerously crowded balconies, underage drinking, and other risks inherent in large crowds of individuals you do not know are all very real concerns.
Law enforcement (University and Charlottesville Police) will have a significant presence in the Wertland area this weekend, and other public safety officials, including the Fire Marshal, will be present. Police will be focusing especially on underage possession of alcohol, public intoxication, open container violations, driving under the influence, and use of false identification. To more fully understand the legal risks, I encourage you to review this flyer describing those risks and the consequences. Your safety and well-being are a paramount concern to us.
Instead of visiting Wertland Street, I hope you will look for other ways to gather safely with friends. As you probably have heard, many activities will be taking place on Saturday evening. The University Programs Council will host a free A$AP Ferg concert in the Amphitheater (doors open at 8 p.m. and the concert starts at 9), and immediately after, Intramural-Recreational Sports will host Hoos Home at the Aquatic & Fitness Center from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., featuring student performers, free food trucks, music, crafts, and games.
In terms of personal safety, new students will be receiving a good deal of information about resources. The updated Student Safety Guide is something you may want to review now. It summarizes all the resources you can access—UVA Ambassadors, Safe Ride, Hoos Got Your Back, and others—as well as personal safety tips.
I have tremendous confidence in you, our students. I trust you to make responsible choices as citizen leaders within the UVA community, as well as in the surrounding community we share with our Charlottesville and Albemarle County neighbors. Please be mindful of excessive noise and pick up your trash. Of particular importance, I ask you to treat each other with respect and care, consistent with our values as a community of trust. We should each strive to ensure all feel safe, welcome, and included here.
This is a strong community and you are the heart of it. I am looking forward to a safe and fulfilling year for each of you, and I wish you the very best as you begin the new academic year.
Allen W. Groves
University Dean of Students