Lauren McCluskey Foundation Launches Dating Violence Safety Initiatives

On the third anniversary of the murder of University of Utah student-athlete Lauren McCluskey, her parents announced a set of five initiatives on behalf of the McCluskey Foundation that aim to change the campus culture around stalking and dating violence. Jill and Matt McCluskey made the announcement during the second annual memorial walk in their daughter’s honor at the McCarthey Family Track and Field at the U. at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Lauren McCluskey was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend outside of her dorm room in 2018. According to news reports, the two had dated, but she broke things off when she realized he had lied about his name, age and the fact that he was on parole and a registered sex offender. McCluskey reported instances of harassment, stalking and extortion to campus and city police, but as police acknowledged later in a settlement with the family, they failed to “fully understand and respond appropriately.”

“Our daughter, Lauren, was murdered outside of her dorm three years ago today, and nothing can change that or bring Lauren back,” said her father, Matt McCluskey, at the memorial walk last week. “But it’s our hope that the steps that we take today, and in the future, will prevent this from happening in the future.”

According to the McCluskey Foundation website, the five initiatives are to:

  1. Increase awareness of the seriousness of dating violence and stalking.
  2. Expand the adoption of Lauren’s Promise, “I will listen and believe you if someone is threatening you,” on campuses throughout the country.
  3. Create a best practices blueprint for effective response.
  4. Develop and distribute a Campus Safety Score.
  5. Share resources to strengthen dating violence and stalking laws.

“We already have college professors at 158 universities who have adopted Lauren’s Promise,” said Jill McCluskey at the event. “We want to grow that, and we already are seeing the positive—the positive impacts from that [through] stories about young people and students coming to their professors and getting help and getting connected to resources.”

University of Utah President Taylor Randall also spoke at the event, saying that the university fully supports the initiatives. He also credited the campus’ McCluskey Center for Violence Prevention as “the key to these efforts on campus.”

“We feel that from this heartbreak, something positive can happen: that we can be an example that we can raise awareness for dating violence and stalking,” said Randall. “We can change the culture of campus safety. It’s going to take all of us.”

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