July 14, 2024

University of Utah walkout on anniversary of McClusky’s death: students still don’t feel safe on campuses

U of U students rally in front of the Park Building to let the administration know they still do not feel safe on campus. Calling themselves "unsafe U," the group wants all colleges campuses to abide by Lauren's Law so all students feel safe. Photo courtesy Victortia Hills of the U of U Chronicle.
Students protested on the steps of the University of Utah a year after Lauren McClusky’s death to let the school administration know they are not doing enough to make its campus safe. After the Utah Legislature passed Lauren’s Law, college campuses are supposed to be more safe for its students. Photo courtesy Victoria Hills/The U of U Chronicle.

Lauren McClusky took her last breath on a cold night in October as a result of a major safety problem on the University of Utah’s campus.

 McClusky was a senior at the U of U in 2018. She had been dating a guy she barely knew and eventually broke up with him and wanted to be protected from him by campus police. She called campus police many times and made several complaints, however, campus police never got back to her. On Oct. 22, 2018, McClusky’s ex-boyfriend shot and killed her. 

One year has passed since her death and a lot has happened. A family has been destroyed, people have been fired and the U of U is blamed for what happened. On Oct. 21, students walked out of class and protested on the front steps of the administration building about how students do not feel safe on campus. 

The students argued that the school continues to dangerously mishandle safety issues.

It’s been 12 months and angry students argue University Police and administration still haven’t done enough prioritize student safety.

The group “unsafeU” planned Monday’s walkout to call attention to campus safety and the way the case was handled.

Students said there is no need for bystander intervention classes when the university knows it did not do its job protecting McClusky. 

These requirements on campus safety are the creation of a campus safety plan and to train students and faculty. The campus safety plan should include where people can find policies/procedures related to covered offenses, resources for victims, victim rights, how the school informs its campus of a crime that is threat, availability to campus police, how to call, school efforts to increase safety and a safety plan posted on a website or around a campus.

The training will be on bystander intervention, sexual consent and awareness and prevention of covered offenses. Each university in Utah must report to the Utah Legislature every November about their implementation of these requirements and their plans going forward. 

 A few hundred students walked out of their classes at the University of Utah on Oct. 21 to protest campus safety. It was one day before the year mark after Lauren’s death. A group of U of U students formed a group called unsafeU.

They held a rally during the walkout on Oct. 21, where they shared 10 stories about issues that students had when accessing help. The students in charge of the walkout started a petition on change.org to demand more accountability from the university. Many students at the U of U still feel unsafe although changes have been made. 

Students at Utah State University Eastern mostly feel that it is a safe campus. Three students said that they feel that this campus is safe. One student, however, said she doesn’t feel safe because of white supremacy, racism and sexism on campus.