Third annual Lauren McCluskey Memorial Walk held at Univ. of Utah

Oct 22, 2021, 2:46 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — Friday marks three years since University of Utah student-athlete Lauren McCluskey was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend on campus after reporting her concerns multiple times to police.

Her parents created a foundation in her honor, which worked with the U. and student leaders on hosting the third-annual Lauren McCluskey Memorial Walk at the school’s track and field center. It was joined by 30 other walks for her across the country.

“We need increased awareness and training for first responders to understand,” said McCluskey’s mother, Jill McCluskey, who has taken on a role as a campus safety advocate.

Her influence has stretched beyond universities.

“Our focus will always be primarily on campuses, but we care about the broader issue of domestic violence,” she said. “As I learn more and more about it, I see ways there can be interventions and we can have a better outcome.”

McCluskey encourages people around the country to learn Lauren’s Promise: “I will listen and believe you if you say someone is threatening you.” She said over 150 universities have adapted this phrase into their campus safety policies.

Recently, domestic violence has been in the spotlight in Utah after an Aug. 12 altercation between Gabby Petito and her boyfriend Brian Laundrie in Moab. Shortly after the fight, Petito went missing and was found dead weeks later. The handling of the domestic dispute between Petito and her boyfriend is now being investigated.

“The Gabby Petito case did affect me in me seeing that she wasn’t believed,” McCluskey said.

McCluskey said she has spoken at a few police conferences. She preaches the importance of first, believing and investigating, and trying to keep the victim safe.

“Too often people are worried that we don’t want to unfairly accuse the perpetrator of violence, but then you can go to far that way and you can miss the opportunity to save someone,” McCluskey said.

In 2020, the McCluskey family settled a lawsuit with the University of Utah over her daughter’s death that the family calls “preventable.” They were awarded $13.5 million — a majority of which has been given to the Lauren McCluskey Foundation to help prevent violence on campuses across the country.

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Third annual Lauren McCluskey Memorial Walk held at Univ. of Utah