Jill McCluskey says campus safety at U of U has improved

Oct 23, 2023, 7:00 PM | Updated: Oct 30, 2023, 12:33 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah has made improvements to protect students from dating violence after the tragic murder of Lauren McCluskey. 

This week marks five years since Lauren was murdered

Lauren McCluskey was a senior at the U of U and a member of the track and field team. On Oct. 22, 2018, she was killed by her ex-boyfriend on campus after asking campus police for help on multiple occasions. 

Jill McCluskey, Lauren’s mother, told KSL NewsRadio that the university’s chief safety officer has implemented excellent changes.

Keith Squires has served as the chief safety officer since April 2021. Squires told Jill that he wanted to work at the university to improve campus safety and make a difference on the policing side. 

“He has made so many changes from hiring victim advocates and having them on staff,” Jill said. “He and I have both participated in a victim-informed policy training.” 

When reflecting on what the university should’ve done differently, Jill said the biggest failure was in the policing. 

“They didn’t even look up her murderer’s parole status, because that could have put him away right there,” she said. 

Another negligence on the university side was the lack of communication between housing and the police. Specifically, the Resident Assistants’ communication with the police. 

Jill said the murder of Zhifan Dong, which happened just four years after Lauren’s death, is another instance of poor communication. 

Five years later, she said it’s important to continue discussing the tragedy to bring awareness to dating violence and stalking. She also wants to keep Lauren’s name alive. 

“It’s important to me to do some good in Lauren’s name to keep her name alive, and keep her light shining among other people, but just to make a positive difference that helps me in my own grief,” Jill said. 

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Jill McCluskey says campus safety at U of U has improved