SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - On what would have been slain University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey’s 22nd birthday, college officials provided a progress report Tuesday about changes being made to correct deficiencies exposed in the lead-up to last year’s fatal shooting of McCluskey on campus by her ex-boyfriend.
Campus police officers are receiving additional training to recognize signs of dating and domestic violence and a victim advocate will be hired, said University of Utah President Ruth Watkins, The Salt Lake Tribune reports . Steps are also being taken to improve information sharing across campus, she said
McCluskey, a senior track athlete from Pullman, Washington, was killed on Oct. 22 outside her dorm by Melvin Rowland, an ex-boyfriend who she discovered was lying about his age and hiding his sex offender-status. Rowland killed himself that same night after police closed in on him.
McCluskey had reported Rowland’s harassment and extortion attempts to campus police in the weeks before her death, but the investigation was only launched three days before her death. Her friends has also reported Rowland’s controlling behavior nearly a month before the shooting, but that warning never made it to police.
The changes are part of a series of recommendations to university officials made by outside investigators.
“I’m committed to addressing each of the shortcomings identified,” Watkins said.
Watkins stood behind her decision not to fire any staff who had been told about McCluskey’s concerns before she was killed. McCluskey’s parents are upset no university staff has been held accountable and have bristled at previous Watkins’ comments that their daughter’s death could not have been prevented.
“Some have called for me to fire or remove individuals involved in the case,” Watkins said. “I do not believe it serves the ultimate mission of improving campus safety to fire anyone who acted in good faith.”
The McCluskeys have said the university never apologized to them and that university officials have stopped communicating with them. Jill McCluskey, the young woman’s mother, tweeted she did not know ahead of time that Watkins would speak about the changes at the meeting Tuesday.
Lauren McCluskey’s father, Matt McCluskey, in a statement praised the university for taking first step preventative measures but said future steps should include “comprehensive reforms, personal accountability and acceptance of responsibility are essential to assure parents that their daughters and sons will be safe.”
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com
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