I’m a first year out of state student at UVA and I can honestly say that this last semester has been the most miserable experience of my life. At DOTL and junior year visiting and orientation, I had a strong feeling that this school was not for me. I came because this school had one of the top programs in the country for what I wanted to study. Over the last few months, I’ve made a strong effort to get involved. I am a member of a variety of interesting and prestigious clubs, I have a good Gpa, and I go to social events. Yet, this school has fundamental problems to the point where it caters to only a few types of student:
- The culture at this school is 100% toxic. This is a huge non-stop party school, with the dorm completely emptying 4 nights out of 7. Every club has a hard partying component, and if you aren't a smoker or a binge drinker or a vape user, you basically have no chance at fitting in and bonding with people. When a club devoted to a sport that advocates against substance use has bar rolls, you know you have a problem. This is heightened by the fact that there is very little to do in Cville other than eat and go to bars. It's a booze soaked hellhole.
- The school has no infrastructure to support students who practice most minority religions, mine included. Furthermore, there is no house of worship for my religion within 20 miles of UVA. The MSC is of no help in this case. As well, the MSC is incredibly alienating. They push a specific political agenda and if you do not conform to that agenda, you will be shamed. Your views will be constantly belittled by MSC staff and coordinators, including those on UVA's payroll such as the assistant dean that works at the MSC. You will be told that you do not deserve to be a student of color and that you are a shame to your heritage. I've been called a coconut, an Uncle Tom, and "brown on the outside" by other students who ostensibly fight for "social justice" . The people at this school have effectively made me unable to connect with my religion and my cultural heritage through activities on grounds.
- Few accommodations for students with dietary restrictions. As a first year student, you are forced to pay into the expensive unlimited meal plan even though it would be cheaper and easier to cook in my dorm kitchen or eat out daily. The school does not offer a variety of options for students with dietary restrictions. 5 out of 6 entrees will have meat, including at meal exchange and there is little variety in the vegetarian meals. Meat entrees, in contrast have wide variety. You can kiss the international section goodbye if you're of a lot of minority religions, as this school somehow manages to incorporate pork and beef into traditional Indian and Middle Eastern dishes 90% of the time, and the other food stations are the same. I've complained to the dining hall 4 times between email and facebook, without success or change. The lack of basic health standards in the dining halls, such as the touching of raw meat and then raw vegetables with the same gloves further increases my unease towards the dining hall. I've spoken to friends at colleges across the country, including those at colleges who use the same company, and most of them have said that their schools actually do are an effort to help out vegetarian and diet-restricted students by separating elements like bacon bits and chicken sauce for students to put on top if they like, which leads me to think this is a UVA problem. As well, popup dishes at UVA are always meat based. I have visited every restaurant pop up hoping for change and only one has had a vegetarian entree alongside the meat one. I've lost 15 lbs since I started at UVA. The lack of food available has sapped my energy and my spirit.
- Most of the faculty here are not helpful. I've already discussed the MSC faculty issues. In addition, when I tried to discuss some of my difficulties with my academic advisor, he scoffed at me and dismissed my worries. As well, when I did not understand some of the requirements for the major I want to do, I went in to speak with the major advisor for undergrads. He proceeded to rant on and on for 10 minutes about how double majors were terrible and how if I wanted to double major I shouldn't even think about becoming a student in his department. I left his office in tears. My academic dean is fantastic, but she has very little knowledge of the programs that I am interested in and thus cannot serve as a clear source of advice regarding all the nuances of classes and program requirements.
To all the incoming students, I highly encourage you to think carefully before committing yourself to this school. Choose wrong and you’ll be stuck in a year long nightmare.