Dear Parents of Second-Year Students:
I write to congratulate you and your student on the beginning of your student's second year at UVA. While the first year in college is often a time of academic and social adjustment, the second year provides new opportunities for intellectual growth, social maturation, and independence. In the second year, UVA students tend to take on increasing leadership roles and greater levels of responsibility. These are natural steps in the process of becoming adults.
The second year is also marked by potential pitfalls, such as the so-called "sophomore slump." Students may become more lax in their academic work, even if they managed to achieve a high GPA in their first year. Classes become more difficult in the second year, and students need to sustain or even elevate their commitment to their academic work. In the second year, students have not yet declared a major or concentration, but they will be required to do so by the end of the academic year. This looming decision can be a source of stress, particularly for students who pursue one of the more competitive programs such as the McIntire School or the Batten School. Students should have a back-up plan if they do not get their first-choice major; this will alleviate some of the anxiety around the selection process.
We also encourage second-year students to get an early start on arranging an internship or study-abroad activity for the summer of 2018. The UVA Career Center has an internship office in Newcomb Hall where students can get advice on internships. Students should plan to visit the Career Center early in the year. Those who start the process early tend to get better results. The Career Center also can help students who are curious about the career options for various majors.
Living arrangements frequently change in the second year. More than 50 percent of second-year students live off Grounds; of the remainder who remain on Grounds, many move from dorms to apartment-style housing such as the apartments at Lambeth Field. This change can bring new positive experiences, as well as new hazards, and students will need to take more responsibility for their own safety and security. If your student moves into off-Grounds housing, we encourage you to inspect the housing for appropriate safety systems such as smoke detectors and door locks, and remind your student to use those locks. If students travel to and from their housing to study or socialize at night, they should plan to travel in groups.
Let me draw your attention to activities that UVA will be offering during Move-in Weekend on the evening of Saturday, August 19. There will be a major concert at the John Paul Jones Arena featuring the artists Future and Lil Yachty. Doors will open at 8 p.m., and the concert will last until about midnight. We will also offer a "block party" inside and outside of the Aquatic & Fitness Center with several carnival-type events, food trucks, and a DJ, lasting from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. At Lambeth Commons, we will have a DJ, free food, and non-alcoholic drinks beginning at 11 p.m. Other fun, safe events will be happening around the Grounds that evening.
Please urge your student to participate in these UVA-sponsored events, and urge them to avoid the Wertland block party that will take place the same night. UVA neither sanctions nor supports this event, yet it draws thousands of people—not all of them our students—to a chaotic, overcrowded party scene that lasts into the morning hours. Underage drinking and excessive drinking and drug use have led to disruptive and criminal behavior in recent years. We believe the party is unsafe for our students. Law enforcement and other officials who are charged with ensuring public safety will be monitoring the event.
In previous years, it has been reported to us that parents have bought alcohol for their underage students to host parties on Wertland. This practice is illegal and it could expose parents to serious legal liabilities. Even if you believe drinking would be safe for your own son or daughter, you cannot be certain it would be safe for other partygoers.
As the school year begins, all of our students, both men and women, need to be aware of the hazards of sexual violence. We know that the most dangerous time for sexual assault is the first few weeks of the academic year, the period known as the Red Zone. More than 50 percent of all reported sexual assaults on college campuses take place during this period. We learned from a campus climate survey that at UVA there is a peak in sexual assault among second-year students, whereas at other schools the peak typically occurred among first-year students. Please remind your sons and daughters that we do not tolerate any type of sexual misconduct at UVA, and ask them to make safety a top priority—their own safety as well as the safety of their classmates. Educational materials and resources are available on the Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights website.
Finally, on August 12, several groups with a variety of ideologies and agendas are planning to hold a "Unite the Right" rally in Emancipation Park in downtown Charlottesville. If your student will be in Charlottesville on August 12, please urge him or her to avoid the rally and avoid confrontation with these groups. There is a credible risk of violence at this event, and student safety is my foremost concern. UVA and the City of Charlottesville are planning alternative events; details will be available in the days ahead.
I hope you will remain engaged in the life of the University during your student's second year. Family Weekend will be November 3-5, so please plan to participate. I look forward to seeing you around the Grounds.
Very truly yours,
Teresa A. Sullivan