Jill McCluskey hugs Alexandria, a friend of McCluskey’s daughter Lauren who declined to give her last name, at a memorial walk for Lauren at the McCarthey Family Track and Field Complex at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Friday. The walk was held on the third anniversary of Lauren McCluskey’s murder outside of her dorm. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News )
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SALT LAKE CITY — On the third anniversary of University of Utah student-athlete Lauren McCluskey’s murder, her parents announced a new plan from the McCluskey Foundation to change the culture surrounding dating violence stalking on college campuses.
On Oct. 22, 2018, Melvin Rowland fatally shot Lauren McCluskey outside her dorm room. The two had dated previously, but she ended things when she found out he had lied about his name, age and criminal history. When they met, he was on parole and on the sexual offender list.
After she ended things, Rowland became increasingly aggressive and controlling to the point of threatening and stalking Lauren and asking for $1,000 not to release explicit photos of her. She reported these instances of harassment and extortion to both campus and Salt Lake police, but the university later acknowledged in a settlement with the McCluskey family that police failed to “fully understand and respond appropriately” to her reports in their investigation.
“Lauren’s murder exposed severe flaws in how many campuses respond to incidents of dating violence and stalking throughout the United States,” the Lauren McCluskey Foundation states on its website. Some of the money from the settlement was used to establish the foundation on college campuses across the U.S.
One of the foundation’s goals is to make campuses across the country places where students are safe. This plan is the organization’s next step to attaining that goal.
Jill and Matt McCluskey, who are faculty members at the University of Washington, announced the plan’s five initiatives to make campuses safer during the second memorial walk at the McCarthey Family Track and Field at the U., hosted by the Associated Students of the University of Utah.
The initiatives are to:
- Increase awareness of the seriousness of dating violence and stalking by starting an annual awareness day in Lauren’s honor, beginning Friday and working with campuses to spread awareness. The overall goal is to create a national awareness campaign.
- Expand the adoption of Lauren’s promise: “I will listen and believe you if someone is threatening you.” College professors at 158 universities have already put the pledge in their syllabi to let their students know that they are a safe resource.
- Create a best-practices blueprint for effective response to dating violence and stalking on campus by evaluating safety programs, campus housing, counseling and other aspects of campus safety in order to coordinate a unified response.
- Develop and distribute a campus safety score through those best practices in order to incentivize universities to adopt the practices. The scores will take into account current procedures, training, resources and responses to threats in order to give parents and prospective students information about university safety when they are selecting schools to attend.
- Share resources to strengthen dating violence and stalking laws and become a trusted source of information for these topics.
The measures inspired by Lauren McCluskey come too late to help her.
“Nothing can change that or bring Lauren back, but it’s our hope that the steps that we take …….