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University of Utah announces major campus safety changes, investments

The University of Utah is receiving a nearly $200,000 grant to test coronavirus particles against temperature and humidity. (Photo: Jordan Allred / Deseret News)

The University of Utah is making some big changes to improve campus safety after the murder of Lauren McCluskey.

The University pledged to invest nearly $1 million implementing safety recommendations from a task force set up after the murders of two students in the last two years.

The changes, approved by President Ruth Watkins, include hiring a new chief security officer who will oversee the campus police chief.

Campus safety in the spotlight

New safe walk and ride options will be available for students, ensuring they won’t be alone on their trips home after school, including a kind of on-campus Uber.

The U will also now schedule evening classes closer together and have a security patrol around those classes.

They are also implementing new restrictions on overnight guests and outside access to campus housing.

One of the other main changes announced Thursday is that students will no longer be able to opt-out of emergency notifications for the campus.

You can see all of the recommendations campus officials are implementing here.

Michele Ballantyne, co-chair of the Presidential Task Force on Campus Safety; and AnnaMarie Barnes, ASUU president, spoke with KSL Newsradio’s Dave and Dujanovic Show Thursday morning. You can hear that entire segment below.

Lauren McCluskey’s parents: we need a culture change

McCluskey’s parents sued the University of Utah for $56 million alleging the school failed to provide Lauren with Title IX access to education as guaranteed by federal law.

In a statement responding to the University’s announcement, Lauren’s mother, Jill McCluskey, wrote:

Matt and I applaud investments in campus safety.  However, the University’s principal problem was the lack of response from the campus police to a female student’s multiple requests for help. One of Lauren’s friends told me, “On the Thursday before we lost Lauren she asked me to come to the library to meet her because she needed help. She said the police didn’t believe her about her scary ex and she didn’t know what to do.” None of these investments in safety will change the culture. For real change to occur, the University of Utah needs to hold people accountable. They must take responsibility for what happened.

The family’s lawsuit is still pending. The McCluskeys have said any proceeds from their lawsuit will go toward the Lauren McCluskey Foundation, a charity that supports campus safety, amateur athletes and animal welfare.