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New safety initiatives announced during Lauren McCluskey memorial walk

SALT LAKE CITY — A memorial walk was held Friday at the University of Utah in honor of former student and track athlete Lauren McCluskey, who was killed in 2018.

The event was about honoring and remembering her, but it was also about continuing to try and make changes so her story doesn’t happen to someone else.

Among the attendees was Kelly Whited Jones.

“I mean, I had to be here today,” said Jones. “I know that the issue of campus safety is so vital. It’s so important, and so that’s why I couldn’t not come.”

Friday marked the three-year anniversary of when McCluskey was murdered by an ex-boyfriend.

This walk was to honor and remember her.

“Just a mourning in the air that lingers still,” said Jones, who is also a professor at the University of Utah.

Instead of focusing on the negative, though, the event was also about trying to bring positive change.

McCluskey’s parents were there to announce five new initiatives the Lauren McCluskey Foundation is working on to try and keep students safer.

“The Lauren McCluskey Foundation is committed to changing the culture on college campuses that responds to dating violence and stalking,” said Matt McCluskey, who is Lauren’s father.

Those initiatives included increasing awareness of the problem, creating a blueprint for an effective response, and strengthening laws to try and keep students safer.

McCluskey had called University of Utah campus police several times about the problems she was having with her ex-boyfriend. However, investigations into her case later showed officers didn’t take her concerns as seriously as they could have.

“I think about her every day,” said Jill McCluskey, Lauren’s mother. “Dating violence and stalking is a problem nationally and it hasn’t been handled as well as it could have been on college campuses.”

About 100 people walked during the event, and many of them tied ribbons to a tree next to the track that was planted in McCluskey’s honor.

While having that tree is a nice gesture, having these new initiatives in place to protect future students is what many feel will really keep her spirit alive.

“We can make something together if we really, really attend to it,” said Jones. “We can make campuses safer.”

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