SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The University of Utah Board of Trustees met Tuesday to reveal ways in which it is making the University of Utah a safer campus.
The board also revealed information about a support service that has been in place for years. It’s one most students have never heard of but is coming to light after the murder of student Lauren McCluskey in October.
It’s called the Behavioral Intervention Team.
According to the university’s website, BIT’s primary function is to help keep the university community safe and connect distressed students to support services. The goal is for the team to act preventatively versus reactionary to students in distress.
In doing this, BIT:
- Gathers and manages reported information from concerned faculty and staff
- Assesses the level of threat a student’s behavior poses
- Intervenes with students and connects them to support services
- Provides faculty and staff with support and intervention resources
- Makes referrals to the Dean of Students or Student Conduct Officer
- Disseminates relevant information to Campus Police
Where was BIT when McCluskey needed them?
According to an internal review that was done following McCluskey’s death, there were multiple opportunities to make BIT aware of a potential threat against her, but there’s no indication they ever became involved.
ABC4 News went to campus on Tuesday to speak with students about BIT. Every student that was approached said they’ve never heard of the resource.
“What can you tell me about the U’s Behavioral Intervention Team?” ABC4’s Brittany Johnson asked Samantha Vranes, a student at the University of Utah.
“I don’t know much about it. I just barely heard it from you,” Vranes replied. “It sounds like a good team though, that we would need. It just needs to be more publicized around here.”
“We’re working with university communications on a comprehensive communication campaign that we could put in place on an annual basis in the future,” Lori McDonald, Dean of Students at the University of Utah announced during the Tuesday morning press conference.
To learn more about BIT, click here.