McCluskey parents launch initiative tackling campus dating violence, stalking

Oct 22, 2021, 8:04 PM
McCluskey parents...
Jill and Matt McCluskey share plan to make college campuses safer at the track of the University of Utah on the third anniversary of Lauren McCluskey's murder (Nick Wyatt, KSL Newsradio)
(Nick Wyatt, KSL Newsradio)

SALT LAKE CITY — On the three-year anniversary of their daughter’s murder, Lauren McCluskey’s parents led a walk in her honor Friday. Jill and Matt McCluskey also announced a new initiative to help make college campuses safer. 

Three years gone

Oct. 22nd is a tough day for Jill and Matt McCluskey. It was on this day in 2018 that 21-year-old Lauren was murdered outside her dorm at the University of Utah by ex-boyfriend, Melvin Rowland. 

“I sort of dread this day,” Jill said. “This day is important to get together where she went to school, where she ran track, where her friends were.” 

The McCluskeys led the second annual walk around the University of Utah track in honor of Lauren. They were joined by students, faculty, the school’s president, and other supporters. 

McCluskey said the large gathering of people who knew Lauren, and those who did not means the world them. 

Responding to dating violence and stalking on college campuses

In addition to the walk around the track Friday, the Lauren McCluskey Foundation announced a five-step initiative. The initiative includes: how the problems of dating violence, sexual violence, and stalking are handled at colleges and universities across the country. 

Lauren’s mother says, the foundation wants to change attitudes toward a big problem for college-age women. 

“There is a conversation happening and we also just really want to change the culture about how look at dating violence and stalking,” Jill McCluskey said. 

Future tragedies like what happened to Lauren might be avoided if these serious issues are handled differently, according to McCluskey. 

Members of the foundation announced a five-step initiative to address the problem. These include spreading awareness of dating and sexual violence, expanding the adoption of Lauren’s Promise. The creation of a best practices blueprint for responding to reports of dating violence, developing a campus safety score, spreading resources about how to strengthen dating violence, and stalking laws. 

University of Utah President, Randall Taylor said, he is fully on board with the plan and wants to make it a top priority at the U. The foundation wants to see it spread to other schools. 

“Not only make an impact here, but make an impact nationally. That’s our goal,” McCluskey said. 

Matt and Jill McCluskey settled a federal civil lawsuit and a wrongful death suit against the University of Utah for $13.5 million in late 2020. 

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McCluskey parents launch initiative tackling campus dating violence, stalking