University of Utah Students Concerned Over Deteriorating Campus Safety
The University of Utah students are angry with the school leadership for not taking the safety of its students seriously.
The students have demanded a meeting with University President Ruth Watkins and plan to hold a walkout on Monday to push their demands that seek greater safety measures on campus.
Last week, the students issued a statement on Medium castigating university leadership for neglecting to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of its students. They further alleged the school of mishandling formal complaints of sexual assault, rape, stalking, and interpersonal violence.
“We, the undersigned students of the University of Utah, declare that our institution and campus are not safe for all students,” the students wrote.
“When many (if not all) of us have done our due diligence in reporting our concerns to the University Police Department, we are routinely dismissed and ignored by officers who appear to be unequipped to assist us, indifferent to our wellbeing, or both.”
Last October, Lauren McCluskey, a University of Utah student, was killed outside of her campus dormitory by her ex-boyfriend, weeks after she ended her relationship with him.
McCluskey’s parents alleged campus police of not paying heed to the many complaints filed by their daughter days before her death. She even told campus police officers that her estranged boyfriend was threatening to release compromising photos of her if she remained adamant about ending their relationship.
An independent investigation into the university’s conduct by former Utah Department of Public Safety Commissioner John T. Nielsen found that a formal investigation was launched by the campus police on October 19, six days after McCluskey first communicated her concerns to the officers. The detective who was assigned to the case did not investigate it until her death.
The students in their declaration have junked the university claims of making progress in campus safety. They have asked the President to take various accountability and transparency measures and allocate additional resources to address their concerns.
It includes creating a Student Ombudsman who can advise students with institutional grievances, a permanent student oversight board for campus safety and establish a student advisory board that will facilitate reviews of the SafeU website and the Chief Security Officer.