Barron: Lauren’s Promise Serves Students


Ivana Martinez

Nina, 22, holds sign in solidarity for Lauren McCluskey in caravan protest on June 6, 2020 after the police scandal which revealed an officer involved in McCluskey’s case showed intimated photographs.

By Morgan Barron, Opinion Writer


After four years at the University of Utah, I have a good idea of what will be on a syllabus before I even read it. Details may vary, but every syllabus includes course objectives, instructor expectations and university policy statements. This semester, however, one of my syllabi broke from the standard format and included a new section.

In remembrance of Lauren McCluskey, my professor pledged to listen and believe students’ safety concerns, provided community resources and referenced university policies prohibiting sexual harassment and violence. This pledge, Lauren’s Promise, has been repeated by professors across campus, the country and even the world. Lauren’s Promise is not a silver bullet solution to campus safety, but every professor should take the pledge and be prepared to act on student concerns.

When explaining why she created and champions Lauren’s Promise, Jill McCluskey told ABC4, “If [my daughter] had another advocate, another voice, that could have helped her, it might have made all the difference.” Including Lauren’s Promise in their syllabus is an easy way for professors to identify themselves as an ally to and resource for students, but not every professor is prepared for this role. Indeed, the U’s current training requirements suggest that few are.

Only professors hired since Fall 2018 have been required to complete intrapersonal violence training. In the mechanical engineering department, this is less than 10% of our faculty. Additionally, this training never has to be renewed — which means the material is not reinforced and will become outdated. Professors who choose to take Lauren’s Promise must be capable of helping students in need and should voluntarily enroll in university and community IPV training at least once a year.

Students may be hesitant to contact campus police. Especially after explosive reports of officers’ misconduct, access to non-police resources is essential to student safety. While non-policing entities cannot arrest or punish offenders, they can help students develop a safety plan, process trauma and interact with the legal system. Sadly, these university resources are not as visible as the police department. Indeed, U professors are required to include the phone number for campus police in their syllabi but are not required to include any information on non-police resources.

Professors who choose to include information about the U’s Victim-Survivor Advocates, Office of Equal Opportunity and the Counseling Center are going beyond syllabus requirements to ensure their students are aware of the non-police resources available to them. Unfortunately, referring students to these services is not always enough. If a student shares a safety concern, professors need to follow up with them to ensure their concerns are being adequately addressed by either the police or a non-policing entity.

Madeline Gallegos, a fourth-year student at the U, told the Daily Utah Chronicle, “Adding [Lauren’s Promise] to the syllabus is nice, I am glad that they are acknowledging it and want to make a difference. But the system itself is broken.” Gallegos is right. We need systemic change — not just a paragraph in a syllabus — to address student safety concerns.

As we continue to fight for meaningful change, Lauren’s Promise serves students by identifying professors prepared to respond to safety concerns and providing information on non-police resources. Because of these benefits, every professor should include Lauren’s Promise on their syllabus next semester. The student body can use this semester’s end-of-term evaluations to encourage all professors to enroll in IPV training and add Lauren’s Promise to their syllabi.


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