Student Safety


University Police

Michael Gibson
Chief, University Police

The University Police Department is a professional police department providing the same types of services as a municipal police department, as well as other services unique to an academic institution. The department works closely with administrators, students, faculty, and staff to create and maintain a secure atmosphere. Its statutory arrest jurisdiction includes the property of the University as well as streets and sidewalks adjacent to the property.

In addition, the department participates in a mutual aid agreement with other local departments and in an agreement with the city of Charlottesville, which gives University officers concurrent jurisdiction in much of the city area surrounding the University.

Police officers patrol the Grounds on foot; in cars; and on bicycles, motor scooters, and motorcycles.

Safety Resources

Safe Ride (434.242.1122): This program provides rides home to students who would otherwise have to walk alone. When school is in session, Safe Ride operates from Sunday through Wednesday 12 midnight to 7 a.m., and Thursday through Saturday 2:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. On weekends, Safe Ride operates in concert with late-night University bus transportation. More details are available on the University Police website.

Late-Night Buses: The University Transit System (UTS) currently extends service every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday when school is in session and during exam weeks. Buses run every 15 minutes. The service calendar, routes, and timetables are available on the Parking and Transportation website.

Charge-a-Ride (434.295.4131): If students find themselves in situations where they need a cab but do not have the money to pay, they can show their student ID, be billed, and later reimburse the University with no questions asked. The University provides this program in partnership with Yellow Cab of Charlottesville.

Rape Aggression Defense Classes: Students from a residence hall or student organization can request self-defense classes taught by University Police officers. Classes last for 12 hours and are broken down into three-hour blocks.

Third Party Sexual Misconduct Reporting: This program allows sexual assault survivors who do not want to make an official report to make confidential, anonymous reports concerning assaults. These reports are used for informational purposes by the police in planning directed patrol and providing warnings to students and staff when appropriate.

Blue-Light Telephones: Throughout Grounds — in every residence hall, along frequently traveled sidewalks, and in parking lots — students can find more than 500 blue-light phones. If students need assistance, all they need to do is pick up the phone and they immediately will be connected with the University Police Department.

In addition, several blue-light telephones have been installed off Grounds, near the Corner, in areas where students live and congregate.

Bicycle Registration: Students are encouraged to register their bicycles, scooters, and mopeds through University Police. Registration offers a safeguard in the event the bicycle is lost or stolen. Register online at the University Police website.


Safety Reminders for Students

Through programming and mass emails, students often are reminded to take responsibility for the safety of themselves and their friends. Parents can help reinforce safety tips such as the following:

Michael Gibson
University Police

Summoning Help

  • Call 911 from any phone, including your cell phone. You will be connected to a regional dispatcher who will send help based on your location.
  • If on Grounds, just pick up one of the blue-light telephones. You automatically will be connected to University Police.

Personal Safety

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Avoid isolated areas.
  • Avoid walking alone at night. Use Safe Ride, walk with friends, or take a late-night weekend bus.
  • Use the lighted pathway system.
  • Tell a friend where you are going and when you will return.
  • Trust your instincts about a person or situation. If you feel uncomfortable, immediately report your concerns to police by calling 911. Police strongly encourage the use of 911 for this purpose.

I asked my daughter if she could remember anything we did to make her first year easier. She reminded me that sending a shoebox full of medicine and first-aid supplies was a great idea. When illness or injury strikes, having health care supplies ready lessens the need to make a trip to the store. Just knowing that general self-care items were with my student also made me feel secure knowing that she had them already.

Mary Wall
Mother of Katie ’11
Midlothian, Virginia

Residence Hall Safety

  • Never allow strangers to follow you into the building.
  • Call 911 if you see someone in the building who seems suspicious.
  • Never prop open card-reader doors or leave room doors open.
  • Secure doors and windows prior to leaving.

Home/Apartment Safety

  • Keep doors and windows locked.
  • Use outdoor lighting.
  • Trim shrubs and trees to prevent the possibility of prowlers hiding in dense, darkened areas.
  • Do not hesitate to contact police, by calling 911, about a person or situation that does not seem right. You will not have to give your name to police. Even if everything is fine, University Police do not in any way consider this "bothering" them.
  • If you see any of the following, immediately call 911: a prowler; someone peeping into a residence; an individual watching, photographing, or filming an area; or any other behavior that under the circumstances seems odd, out of place, or suspicious.
  • Work with your neighbors and fellow community members to ensure a safe environment.

Crime Tips

Call 911 or anonymously provide information by going to the Crime Tips website.

Alcohol and Personal Safety

Hazardous alcohol consumption may lead to illness, injury, arrests, physical or sexual assault, and other serious problems. Through a variety of educational programming, students are encouraged to consider these potential consequences, and most of all, take care of one another. Students are reminded never to leave an intoxicated friend alone “to sleep it off.” They are urged to call 911 immediately if they observe even one sign of alcohol overdose (vomiting while passed out; unresponsive to stimulus; breathing is slow or shallow; or skin is blue, cold, or clammy) since death may result if untreated.

Student Health’s Gordie Center for Substance Abuse Prevention provides year-round programming and relays targeted messages at critical points during the year when some students may engage in increased alcohol consumption. More information is available in the article, "Alcohol Use among Students: How Parents Can be Partners in Prevention."

Online Safety

The University supports students taking measures to safeguard their privacy and personal information on Facebook and in other online communities. Revealing an address, telephone number, date of birth, or schedule can put both an individual’s safety and identity at risk. Be sure you reiterate these concerns to your student.

Both prospective employers and law enforcement potentially review online information. Students should seriously consider whether to post information that may lead to negative results, such as having a job offer rescinded.

"Just Report It"

Students who experience or witness an incident of bias or abuse directed toward themselves or another student are urged to report the incident through “Just Report It,” the University’s online incident reporting system. Operated by the Office of the Dean of Students, the system enables a student to report any situation in which she or he sees a student treated wrongly - whether verbally, physically, or in writing - by another individual. The perpetrator may or may not be a student.

For more information