Office of the Provost: March 8, 2018
To all faculty:
As you know, many students around the country will be walking out of classrooms on March 14 as a show of support for those who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and to show support for stronger action on gun legislation. I speak for all of us in adding my heartfelt sympathy and unwavering support for the families and the community of Parkland.
There is a long tradition of student activism producing important social change. We are proud of having students who speak and act for what they believe. Indeed, it has been part of our mission for 200 years to develop citizen leaders for democracy, and our students frequently remind us of the numerous ways they embrace that aspiration. That said, the long history of civil disobedience includes the courage to accept the consequences for those acts. Such acts are effective in part for this very reason.
Many of our students will engage in National Student Walkout Day on March 14. As always, the grading of students is governed by the syllabus of each course as developed by each individual faculty member. It would not be supportive of our values to deviate from the syllabus based on our individual views one way or the other, either penalizing students more harshly or completely immunizing them from all responsibility. It is also within the purview of faculty to, for example, shift schedules of exams when a large number of students are expected to be missing. While I believe this is a reasonable thing to do, it is up to each faculty member to make that decision, and it is the responsibility of students to take the initiative in working with their faculty members on absences and deadlines for their work. As always, we are a community of multiple views, and support for both respectful expression and dissent are key to achieving greater understanding.
The University of Virginia community mourns the tragic loss of life at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and all victims of gun violence everywhere, and we encourage our community to express their grief and to support each other.
Executive Vice President & Provost