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U Trustees Receive Update On Safety Regulations Following McCluskey Murder

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The University of Utah Board of Trustees on Tuesday received an update on 30 campus safety measures that were recommended after the murder of student athlete Lauren McCluskey.

Officials with campus police, housing and administration told the trustees that shortcomings, identified in an independent review, are being quickly addressed.

“As you know I’ll be retiring this summer. I want part of my legacy at the U to be a safer campus for every student,” said an emotional Barb Snyder, vice president for student affairs. “I commit to you that the staff in the areas that i oversee are moving forward with seriousness and speed to get these changes made.”

During the meeting, which occurred on what would have been McCluskey’s 22nd birthday, University president Ruth Watkins said she is “taking personal responsibility” for implementing the safety action items.

“What happened to Lauren McCluskey is an absolute tragedy,” Watkins said. “I remain deeply sorrowful about Lauren’s death and I know that our campus continues to grieve for Lauren.”

McCluskey, 21, was shot and killed while walking home from class on Oct. 22, 2018, by an ex-boyfriend who was hiding the fact that he was on parole and a registered sex offender. Her death came after weeks of harassment that she reported to campus police.

“I’m committed to addressing each of the shortcomings identified in the independent review team’s report so that our campus will truly be safer,” Watkins said.

Campus Police Chief Dale Brophy spoke to the trustees, saying that 16 of the 30 recommendations are the responsibility of his department and have been addressed, including making sure detectives can be reached 24/7, improving communication with other law enforcement agencies in the state, and training officers on how to help victims of domestic violence.

Brophy also said the case is ongoing and that detectives are in communication with the McCluskey family.

“I understand their frustration. I understand their anger,” Brophy said. “I can’t even imagine how hard it is and how difficult it is for them.”

The university added the safety recommendations to a public website with completion dates for each of the action items.

No one has been terminated as a result of the review, school officials said in the meeting.

“I do not believe that it serves the ultimate mission of enhancing campus safety to fire anyone who acted in good faith,” Watkins said, adding that she still expects accountability.

“We haven’t fired anybody in the department of public safety,” Brophy said. “We don’t discuss personnel issues.”

McCluskey’s mother, Jill McCluskey, has repeatedly been critical of the university’s response, saying the school failed to take reports of her daughter’s harassment seriously.

“We commend the University of Utah for trying to adopt measures that will make the campus a safer place for students,” Jill McCluskey said in a statement after the meeting. “These measures are a first step. Moving forward, comprehensive reforms, personal accountability, and acceptance of responsibility are essential to assure parents that their daughters and sons will be safe.”

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