“No, no, no!” were the last words University of Utah senior Lauren McCluskey said to her mother. Jill McCluskey was on the phone with her daughter the night of Oct. 22, 2018, when the line suddenly went dead.
“I though she might have been in a car accident,” Jill McCluskey said in the days after her daughter’s death. Lauren McCluskey, a track star and communications student, was attacked by her ex-boyfriend, Melvin Rowland. He dragged the 21-year-old to a car, where he shot and killed her.
In the weeks before her death, McCluskey – who Utah track coach Kyle Kepler described as relentlessly driven and kind – had filed a harassment report against Rowland with the University of Utah campus police weeks before her death. Rowland, a registered sex offender, reported to a parole officer, but that person was never notified of the complaint, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
“What happened at the U. is a tragedy,” says Junior Martinez, the president of Salt Lake Community College’s Student Association. “Could it have been prevented?”
A study by the New York Crime Commission, which studies universities and two-year colleges across the United States, showed that there was a 153 percent increase in shooting incidents from the 2001-02 school year to 2015-16 school year. The report investigated 140 colleges and found at least 190 incidents that occurred on or near a college campus.
12 shooting incidents occurred in the 2010-11 school year; there were 30 incidents five years later.
With the news of McCluskey’s untimely death reaching across the Salt Lake Valley, SLCC is reminding students that safety is a top priority.
“You have to take [campus safety] seriously being in this position,” says Martinez. “We haven’t been put in a situation … to say we are ready. It’s [a] tough question.”