SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Student body leaders expressed disappointment, concern, and opposition Tuesday night to the language used in the University of Utah’s motion to dismiss charges in the lawsuit filed by Lauren McCluskey’s parents.
The assembly of the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU) passed a resolution Tuesday night regarding language used in the university’s motion to a judge to dismiss the McCluskey family’s lawsuit. A copy of the resolution was tweeted out Wednesday morning by McCluskey’s mother, Jill. ASUU’s senate passed a similar resolution that night too.
The resolution stated:
“Be it resolved that the Associated Students of the University of Utah are disappointed by the language used in the University’s motion to dismiss all charges.
Be it further resolved that the Associated Students of the University of Utah are concerned that the University of Utah has expressed that the University Police Department has no responsibility to protect students on campus when the threats involve parties who are not current students at the University of Utah.
Be it further resolved that the Associated Students of the University of Utah are opposed to statements made by the University of Utah that have been widely interpreted as victim-blaming as part of this lawsuit.”
AnnaMarie Barnes, ASUU’s student body president, declined an on-camera interview with ABC4 News Wednesday But said she would be addressing the resolution in their next meeting Monday.
In an e-mail to ABC4 News from Chris Nelson, the University of Utah’s Communications Director: “Mounting a legal defense against a monetary judgment cannot and should not be equated with a refusal of responsibility to do everything possible to make the university campus safe.”
He went on to write:
“Lauren McCluskey’s murder was a transformational event for the University of Utah. Since the tragedy, the university has worked diligently and methodically to understand exactly what happened so that we can prevent future mistakes. This has been a slow but thorough process, and, of course, it is ongoing – there is no finish line. As weaknesses and new issues surface, the university has moved and will continue to move swiftly to fix them.
Campus is safer today than it was last year. University departments have completed nearly all of the recommendations made by the independent review team enlisted last year to assess our actions in Lauren’s case. The recommendations ranged from hiring new personnel to requiring specific trainings, clarifying reporting structures and revising policies.
The university has taken accountability by making meaningful changes and investing in campus safety. We have added five key positions to our police force, including a victim advocate and a detective with extensive experience investigating and addressing interpersonal violence. Our police officers now have been trained in the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition’s Lethality Assessment Program – a nationally recognized program for improving officers’ understanding and responsiveness to issues involving interpersonal violence. We have made significant changes in our housing program, adding staff and revising policies so that staff know exactly what to do when questions arise regarding the safety and well-being residents. We have made substantial investments in lighting, security cameras, our courtesy escort program and our new SafeRide program.
McCluskey, a student-athlete at the University of Utah, was shot and killed on campus by Melvin Rowland, a man she briefly dated back in October.
In June, her parents filed a $56 million lawsuit against the University of Utah. Their family’s attorney stated her death was preventable and the murder occurred because of the university’s failure to respond to her repeated complaints about Rowland.
On Friday, University of Utah officials filed a motion asking a judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed by McCluskey’s parents. Documents indicated the request was made because “harassment perpetrated by a non-student, non-employee, with no University affiliation, cannot be the basis of a Title IX claim against the University as the University does not have the ‘substantial control’ of such an individual required for the implied cause of action judicially created under Title IX.”
On Monday, the McCluskeys and their attorney responded to the university’s motion to dismiss their lawsuit, stating that by doing so, school officials are taking the position that every claim and concern expressed in their daughter’s complaint was without merit and should be dismissed.
To read their full response, click here.
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