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McCluskey family: changes at the U not enough one year after Lauren’s murder

FILE - In this Nov. 10, 2018, file photo, a photograph of University of Utah student and track athlete Lauren McCluskey, who was fatally shot on campus, is projected on the video board before the start of an NCAA college football game between Oregon and Utah in Salt Lake City. The parents of Lauren McCluskey say their formerly shy daughter was brimming with confidence and excited to graduate before she was fatally shot on campus. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY —  Tuesday marks the one year anniversary of the murder of University of Utah track star Lauren McCluskey. Her parents say the milestone brings with it a sadness that doesn’t go away.

“It’s a really sad time. It brings up all the feelings we have and reliving the whole experience. We miss her so much,” Jill McCluskey, Lauren’s mom, told Utah’s Morning News.

Lauren’s death was top of mind for many students this week as more than 100 students protested outside the university president’s office to demand that more be done to protect students. Jill McCluskey says she’s proud that Lauren’s legacy is living on through them.

“We are very proud that the students have stepped up and we do see it as part of Lauren’s legacy that they have stood up for what’s right and that they’re leading this protest and that they’re changing their campus and campuses around the world,” she said.

“It’s amazing to hear about what’s going around on other campuses — that her name is being brought up and that people are thinking about campus safety in a different way and how they must believe women and how they must respond with urgency,” she continued.

Jill and Matt McCluskey say the one thing they wanted from the school was acknowledgment they could have prevented Lauren’s death, but that has never come. So, in June, they announced a $56 million lawsuit.

The school asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed and the Utah AG’s Office says there’s no precedent for a lawsuit like this. University Spokesman Chris Nelson says they’re taking the McCluskey’s requests seriously and they want to hear from students who don’t feel safe.

An independent group found 30 improvements the school needed to make to improve student safety. Nelson says they’ve already made $7 million in improvements. Those improvements include training the campus police department about recognizing and responding to domestic violence. They also hired a new detective.

Jill McCluskey says those changes aren’t enough.

“Something is better than nothing,” she said, “but it’s been a whole year and the university has never publicly acknowledged any responsibility or accountability for their failures. Some of the people have left but some of the people who were part of the problem of the police culture there of not believing women are still there. I don’t think we can change the culture until they acknowledge what happened and they were responsible for some of the failures that resulted in Lauren’s death.”

You can hear the full conversation that Tim and Amanda from Utah’s Morning News had with Jill McCluskey below.