Students React to the U’s Troubling Stalking Statistics


Abu Asib

The Legacy Bridge at the University of Utah Campus. (Photo by Abu Asib | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Allison Stuart, News Writer


The 2021 Clery Report showed that there were 130 cases of reported stalking over the 10 private and public universities in Utah in 2021. The University of Utah amounted for 73 of those cases, more than half.

High-profile cases that have emerged from the U regarding stalking and harassment include the deaths of students Lauren McCluskey in 2018 and Zhifan Dong in 2022. 

Utah’s statutory definition of stalking states a victim has to experience two or more incidents from a perpetrator that caused them fear or emotional distress to qualify for an injunction or possibly file charges.

Stalking cases at Utah campuses have continued to rise, save for 2020, the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The total number of cases statewide in 2019 was 146, down to 67 in 2020 before climbing back up to 130 in 2021.

Lucas Butterfield, president of Students for Action Focused Empowerment and political science major, said he was troubled by the data released in the Clery Report regarding stalking at the U.

Butterfield wondered if this large increase in stalking and sexual assault cases comes from an increased willingness to talk about this sort of thing. 

Butterfield noted the administration seems to be praising the brave individuals who stepped up to report what was going on to the police, rather than directly addressing the issue that the numbers continue to increase.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that victim advocates and university officials said the increase in reports may be a reflection of students coming forward and stalking being taken more seriously.

“We should not only be happy that it’s being reported, but we should also work to make sure it doesn’t happen in the first place,” Butterfield said.

Butterfield suggested that students who are experiencing this reach out to organizations like Victim-Survivor Advocacy and the police if comfortable. 

A female Resident Advisor, who wishes to remain anonymous, said many stalking and sexual assault cases come from the dorms, especially with the rise of students living on campus. 

The U releases an annual Crime and Fire data report that shows details about crime on campus, including in residence halls. According to the report, there were 65 cases of stalking that occurred on campus in 2021, with 7 of those taking place in resident halls. There were 14 cases of domestic violence offenses, with 8 of those happening in residence halls.

Housing has the most issues when it comes to that, she said. She also noted the university does seem to be learning from its mistakes and trying to do better to prevent stalking. 

Many students agree that it is not enough, as reflected in a survey taken by R.A.s and residents.

“We did a survey amongst R.A.s and residents, some kind of like what they think of like safety on campus,” the R.A. said. “And a lot of R.A.s even mentioned that they don’t think that, like, the professional staff takes things seriously until it’s far too late.”

She expressed her concerns outside of being an R.A., too. “As a student, I definitely think that there should be more awareness, attention and, and just really believing that when people say that they are experiencing some type of violence, especially violence against women, because it is a recurring issue, and it’s still happening.”


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