McCluskey was murdered on October 22nd, 2018 by her ex-boyfriend in the parking lot of her dorm room. Leading up to her murder, McCluskey repeatedly reached out to the University of Utah Campus Police Department asking for help. Protesting students now say they walk to hopefully change future situations similar to McCluskey’s.
Students at Monday’s walkout stood in solidarity, but each had a personal purpose for protest.
“If the administration at the University continue to think they are separated from this problem, that they’re not going to feel any consequences of that, they’re dead wrong…”Abhi Harikumar
Organizers of the event and members of UnsafeU say they called for action because they feel the University of Utah administration continually refuses to prioritize safety.
Abhi Harikumar, Greek and Press Outreach coordinator for UnsafeU let me follow him through his walkout experience.
He says he took it upon himself to take action when he learned how unsafe his classmates actually felt on campus.
“I’m realizing that Lauren’s incident isn’t an isolated incident, right? We’re seeing serious, serious failings in every aspect of campus safety…and that’s really really scary,” Harikumar says.
Harikumar says the end goal will always be the same, to have students feel like they are safe on campus.
“I want to be able to say that we as student body came out and we were able to change this one thing. We’ve had a lot of issues with administration in the past but I don’t think we’ve ever had this kind of momentum where people have been able to communicate with each other and really see that the administration has effected us all really negatively,” Harikumar adds.
He says he feels like this is the first time the administration is really listening to student concerns following the McCluskey incident and it makes him excited for the power of change.
“If we’re able to make any level of tangible change here, if we’re able to facilitate some kind of change, we might even be able to embolden other people on other campuses,” Harikumar says.
Harikumar recognizes campus safety concerns are felt all around the country and feels that the U’s changes will empower other academic groups.
He says if the administration fails to respond to their protested more unsafe campus occurrences will continue to happen.
“The consequence of that is that kids aren’t going to want to come to the U. I Have friends that I’ve known my entire life that didn’t want to come to the U because they heard about all the stuff that was happening, and they didn’t feel like University police would keep them safe….so they went to other universities in the state.”
For an officials statement form University of Utah officials click here.
To learn more about UnsafeU and to sign their position click here.