Southern Utah University partnered with Canyon Creek Services and the Lauren McCluskey Foundation to hold a memorial walk at the Eccles Coliseum track on Friday, Oct. 22 to recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The goal of the memorial walk was to raise awareness about domestic violence and campus safety. In honor of McCluskey’s death in October 2018, students and members of the Cedar City community walked a lap in her memory.
McCluskey was murdered by her ex-boyfriend outside her dorm at the University of Utah three years ago. McCluskey’s murder has brought awareness to domestic violence and stalking throughout the U.S.
SUU Student Body President and President of the Southern Utah Student Association Nouman Kante believes that more education on domestic violence will increase campus safety.
“We are trying to educate and showcase the resources that are on campus,” Kante said. “If something were to happen to them, they know where they can get support and help.”
The Lauren McCluskey Foundation honors her legacy by supporting campus safety. After McCluskey’s murder, her parents have made it a mission advocating for universities nationwide to help students feel safe.
“As the President of the Utah Student Association, one of our initiatives is to increase awareness of Lauren McCluskey’s memorial,” Kante said.
Jake Johnson, director of equal opportunity at SUU and Title IX coordinator, said that SUU and the Title IX team are committed to ending violence like McCluskey’s murder in the community.
“When people report to our office, we will do everything in our power to hold those accountable in terms that they are responsible,” Johnson said.
Curtis Hill, director of Counseling and Psychological Services at SUU, gave information on how to address the issue if they or someone they know are involved in a violent relationship.
“It is normal to be victimized in a relationship and not recognize it for some time,” Hill said. “When you do start to question it, it is essential to find someone who loves you, cares deeply for you, and it may be beneficial to get professional help.”
CAPS provides free individual or group counseling services to SUU students.
“In the counseling center, we go to extra lengths to provide training in this area,” Hill said. “When you begin to have suspicions, start talking to people you know and trust.”
Kaleigh Bronson-Cook, awareness and prevention director at Canyon Creek Services, said McCluskey did everything right — yet the system failed her.
“There were multiple opportunities that the system could have stepped in and done better,” Bronson-Cook said. “We have to stop talking about survivors of domestic violence as it relates to how they experience violence.”
In addition to CAPS on campus, Canyon Creek Services is a non-profit organization located in Cedar County that offers survivor services to those who have suffered from domestic violence and sexual assault in Iron County. Help is available via the 24-hour hotline (435) 233-5732.
Article and photos by: Lexi Hamel