Students returned to the classroom for the start of spring semester last week as the University continues to honor the three lives lost in the November shooting — second-year College student Devin Chandler, fourth-year College student D’Sean Perry and third-year College student Lavel Davis Jr. Two other students, third-year College student Mike Hollins and second-year College student Marlee Morgan, also suffered non-fatal injuries. While University operations will continue as scheduled, there are many resources available to students, such as free counseling and opportunities to gather in shared places.
In a video released Jan. 17, University President Jim Ryan said that as students begin this semester, it is important that the University community continues to honor Chandler, Perry and Davis as well as Hollins and Morgan.
“Our approach for this semester is, as best we can, to meet you where you are,” Ryan said. “We are going to have a fully open and vibrant semester. We are not going to cancel or postpone events as we had to at the end of last semester. Instead of subtracting, we’ll add programs and events along the way.”
Ryan also explained a number of steps the University is taking to combat gun violence in the Charlottesville community and beyond.
“This is a chance to make something good come of this tragedy,” Ryan said. “For that reason, in addition to focusing on internal changes we can make within U.Va., we’re working to address the uptick in gun violence in our region. We are working at the state level for legislative changes that would make Virginia colleges and universities safer.”
Ryan also delivered an update on the spring semester, including information about how the University will continue to support students who are recovering from the November shooting. He said that returning to Grounds can bring mixed emotions for students who might still be grappling with a sense of loss and sadness, and the University will continue to offer counseling and support services to those who need it.
The University held a public memorial service for Chandler, Perry and Davis Nov. 19. More than 9,000 people attended the service with orange ribbons and bracelets that lit up in University colors. Teammates, friends and coaches were invited to share memories and funny stories about the three men.
One effort the University took to meet students’ academic needs allowed undergraduate students to opt into CR/GC/NC for their Fall 2022 semester classes. Provost Ian Baucom announced the grading option Nov. 21.
Students were required to choose their grading preference by Jan. 20, 2023, after fall semester grades were finalized. This option is unique from past academic years, in which students had to decide to opt into CR/GC/NC for their classes before receiving their final grades.
Michelle Ball, career counselor at the University’s Career Center, said this option aims to give students who were affected by last semester’s tragedy on Grounds space to recover.
“The goal behind this option is for anyone who was affected by the tragedy on campus last semester to be able to have options academically,” Ball said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “I find this to be a valuable way for students to protect their GPAs and alleviate some stress from courses at a time when our campus was and still is grieving.”
In addition to the fall semester’s grading options, Ryan has opened his home — Carr’s Hill — to students periodically throughout the spring semester. Students are invited to come study, meet friends and hang out with the president’s pets.
Additionally, a report provided by the University’s independent review of the circumstances that led to the shooting should be available by late spring or early summer. Among other concerns, the report will analyze a threat assessment investigation that alleged Christoper Darnell Jr.—a University student and former member of the football team who was charged in the shooting— possessed a firearm. The same threat assessment investigation also revealed that Jones had been involved in a prior criminal incident outside of Charlottesville in February 2021 involving a concealed weapon.
The request for an independent study was made in the days immediately following the shooting, to provide a deeper background about what led to the shooting and review all relevant University policies and procedures to make recommendations for improvements and changes.
There are currently no announced grading accommodations for the spring semester in relation to the November shooting. Even so, students walk to and from classes over Beta Bridge — where the three victim’s names remain painted along with hundreds of hearts and personal messages. Crossing into this new semester, the community will continue to remember the legacy of Chandler, Perry and Davis.