SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – On Oct. 22, 2018, University of Utah student-athlete Lauren McCluskey was shot and killed on campus. Now, nearly five years later, ESPN is releasing a 90-minute documentary titled “Listen,” detailing her life and tragic death and the University of Utah is reminding its community of its progress.
“Listen” will debut on ESPN+ at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 28. The documentary’s trailer says it will include never-before-seen videos, photos, and interviews. The 90-second trailer also indicates it will highlight the University of Utah’s shortcomings when handling McCluskey’s complaints in the days leading up to her death.
The university acknowledged it mishandled her case. In 2020, the University said it deeply regretted that it did not handle her case as it should have and its employees at the time failed to fully understand and respond appropriately to McCluskey’s situation.
Despite working closely with the McCluskey family and making changes to the way it handles matters of public safety on campus, University of Utah officials are anticipating renewed criticism and fears following the documentary’s release.
University of Utah President Taylor Randall said there will be a series of listening sessions for students, faculty and staff throughout April in order to answer questions and concerns related to safety on campus.
“The university has acknowledged that it did not respond to Lauren’s needs correctly and has made significant progress, including putting in place a series of safety improvements recommended after her death,” said Randall. “We have also committed to continue doing better. As I noted at the U’s Campus Safety Conference on March 2, the university has worked to regain the McCluskey family’s trust. Together, we will gather, study and implement the best, victim-informed safety practices and work to prevent violence going forward.”
In its partnership with the McCluskey family, the university said it is dedicated to ensuring her death was not in vain. Since her tragic death, the university said it has dealt with incomplete training and communication, process and management issues in the campus police department, and handled gaps in the collaboration between the University Police and Utah Department of Corrections and Adult Probation and Parole.
Among its changes, U of U officials said the University Campus Police Department has undergone changes and been “reinvigorated.” According to officials, 70 percent of its sworn officers and 94 percent of all other employees are experienced in law enforcement but are new to the U. Campus police have also changed the way it approaches initial interviews with victim-survivors.
To help facilitate a safer campus, the University of Utah built a new $14.5 million public safety building. The new building houses victim advocates, a “soft” interview room for victim-survivors, and includes an expanded dispatch center with a direct link to the Salt Lake City Police Department.
The university also introduced a new position: Chief Safety Officer. The position was instated in 2019 and oversees University Police, campus security, emergency management and communications, community services, and U Health security. Kieth Squires, the current Chief Safety Officer, took officially took the role in January 2022, after working closely with his predecessor, Marlon Lynch, in creating safety divisions and committees.
The U has also established a Racist and Bias Incident Response Team that analyzes and reports cases of sexism, homophobia, hate speech and hate crimes as they are notified. A new Clery Act coordinator tracks and regularly reports public cases of dating violence, stalking, and other crimes on campus. The university has also put in place a public “heat map” with nearly real-time reporting of incidents across campus.
“There is still more work to be done,” said Randall. “I am grateful for the collaboration and partnership we are building together with Jill and Matt McCluskey and their foundation. Transparency, accountability and open lines of communication will guide this effort. With your help, the university will become a national leader in campus safety. This is how we honor Lauren.”