SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – It has been almost two years since the murder of Lauren McCluskey on the University of Utah campus. Her mother, Jill McCluskey, and others have worked to not let what happened to Lauren slip into the shadows by introducing what they call ‘Lauren’s Promise’.
Lauren’s Promise is a simple statement, ‘I will listen and believe you if someone is threatening you,’ and one that professors can add to their syllabus to show their students that they will simply listen and help them if they happen to be going through similar experiences that Lauren went through.
Lauren McCluskey was murdered on the University of Utah campus when she was a student-athlete there almost two years ago by Melvin Rowland, 37, with whom she had a short relationship with.
The Lauren McCluskey foundation has promoted Lauren’s Promise to help prevent sexual assault, domestic violence, and/or stalking-especially on college campus’. Since McCluskey’s murder, Lauren’s Promise has made its way into professor’s syllabi at over 75 universities across the nation.
“I was just thinking about how Lauren tried to report to police and no one ever helped her,” Jill McCluskey told ABC4 News. “She was never connected to a victim’s advocate or anything like that and I thought that maybe if one of her professors had maybe said something like ‘I will listen and believe you if someone is threatening you’, then maybe she would have gone to a professor that could have connected her with resources because no one helped her. So that is why I started to think about Lauren’s Promise.”
McCluskey says that Lauren’s Promise is such a small, and free, thing to do that she is pleased with how positively people are responding to it.
“That is a way that anyone can help and make a difference. It doesn’t cost any money to make this promise. Everyone can be involved. Even though it started out with professors, all sorts of people are making this promise,” says McCluskey. “I hope that it starts changing the culture, one person at a time. That they are taking relationship violence seriously and helping in valuing each person that comes to them.”
Lauren’s Promise hasn’t been limited to just Utah or Washington State (where McCluskey is from). Professors from across the nation have caught wind of the statement that they could include in their syllabus and did so. So far, professors from 79 universities have included Lauren’s Promise in their syllabus.
One of those professors is John Strandholm from the University of South Carolina Upstate.
“It seemed like a really good thing to put on a syllabus for vulnerable college-aged students, really for everybody, so I figured that if I can help at least one person, it is definitely worth it,” says Strandholm of Lauren’s Promise.
Strandholm has also updated his syllabus with resources for victims of domestic violence/relationship abuse in his area and although he says he may never know if his actions are helping someone, he says if it might help just one person, then he will follow through with Lauren’s Promise.
Professors who have applied Lauren’s Promise in their classroom have told McCluskey that several young women have already confided in them, just because they did include the statement in their syllabus. McCluskey says she has been surprised at how impactful and far-reaching Lauren’s Promise has been, calling the number of professors implementing it ‘surprising’.
“I have had a number of professors (who have included Lauren’s Promise in their syllabus) tell me that they have had women come to them, that it has made a difference and so I think it not only changes the culture because it points it out, but also makes someone who may not go to a professor help them be brave enough to do that and speak up, and maybe you will save a life,” McCluskey says.
Thursday will mark two years since McCluskey’s murder on the University of Utah campus. To remember Lauren, there will be a walk around the University of Utah track to reflect and commit to Lauren’s Promise. Lauren was on the University of Utah track team at the time of her death. Jill McCluskey says that the walk will also promote a culture that responds with urgency to relationship violence.
The Memorial Walk will take place on Thursday at the McCarthey Track at the University of Utah from 1-4 p.m.