Utah State Today regularly highlights work created by the talented student journalists at Utah State University. The following story was published in The Utah Statesman prior to its inclusion in Utah State Today.
Oct. 22 will mark the third anniversary of the murder of Lauren McCluskey, a student-athlete from the University of Utah.
Utah State University, as well as schools all over the state, will be holding a memorial walk in her honor. The schools hope to raise awareness about dating violence and resources for students experiencing it.
Since her death in 2018, McCluskey’s parents have founded the Lauren McCluskey Foundation, which is dedicated to helping campuses to become safer.
A large part of their platform is Lauren’s Promise: “I will listen to you and believe you if someone is threatening you.”
This year, the Utah Student Association, or USA, has partnered with the foundation as one of their yearly initiatives. USU will be implementing it in a few ways, including the memorial walk.
On Oct. 22, students will be able to gather on the Ralph Maughan Track Stadium north of Maverik Stadium and listen to keynote speakers, and then march towards the homecoming football game together.
“This is a really great opportunity to come together as an Aggie family,” said Felicia Gallegos, the outreach coordinator at USU’s Sexual Assault and Anti-Violence Information Office, or SAAVI, who has been in charge of planning the walk. “Everyone coming together and saying we see and recognize what happened to Lauren McCluskey — We want to make sure that students and faculty and staff know that they are supported here, that if they are in an unhealthy relationship or experiencing relationship violence that they are supported.”
Lucas Stevens, the president of the Utah State University Student Association, has also been involved in trying to get Lauren’s Promise implemented on campus.
“The goal of the initiative is to provide space for people to come when they feel threatened, when they feel in danger, and to feel safe and be safe,” Stevens said.
Another way Lauren’s Promise is being promoted is through the effort to get it included on every syllabus. Stevens wants every student to know what resources they have available to them and feel comfortable using them.
“The cool thing about Lauren’s Promise is that it’s something anyone and everyone can take on, anyone can believe someone who is being threatened or endangered,” Stevens said. “Now, this isn’t just something for professors to put on their syllabus, but this is a personal battle.”
Gallegos also hopes these events will raise awareness for people who need help.
“There is a very long history of survivors not being believed when they come forward, or being questioned about their experience and not having the right resources or support when they do come forward about experiencing violence,” Gallegos said. “The more people that can do this outward demonstration of supporting survivors, the more likely it is for survivors to come forward about their experience and ultimately get the professional help that they need.”
USU students are agreeing with the efforts being put towards making everyone aware of their resources.
“I think it’s really cool. I’m glad that people are taking measures to make our campus safer,” said Sarah Boyce, a USU student.
October is also National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so there are resources students can reach out to if they or anyone they know is in need of help.
On campus, SAAVI is a confidential space that offers advocacy and therapy. The Community Abuse Prevention Service Agency, or CAPSA, is a non-profit domestic violence, sexual abuse and rape recovery center that serves Cache and Rich counties. They also offer free and confidential services. Other places include the Office of Equity and the USU Police Department. All of these organizations will be available at the memorial walk.
For more information about the Lauren McCluskey Foundation, visit https://www.laurenmccluskey.org/, and for a statewide map of resources, visit https://www.usu.edu/saavi/get-help/statewide-campuses.