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A Moral Obligation vs. A Legal Liability

Students and faculty gathered at the Park Building on the University of Utah campus to remember Lauren McCluskey, who was shot and killed on Oct. 22, 2018 on campus.

What responsibilities did the University of Utah have to protect Lauren McCluskey from her murderer and what has been the community-wide impact of their response in the months following her death?

RadioWest divider.

When University of Utah track star Lauren McCluskey was killed in 2018 by her short-term boyfriend Melvin Rowland, the community was stunned by the details of her murder. In June of this year, her parents, Jill and Matt McCluskey, sued the university for $56 million on the grounds that university police ignored their daughter's multiple reports of Rowland's behavior, citing that many of his actions towards Lauren were prohibited under Title IX, and that by not reacting to Lauren's reports, the university violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. On Sept. 20, the university asked for the McCluskey's lawsuit to be dismissed on the grounds that the school does not have a legal liability in this case, stating in their filing that, “[Liability for this] would require that schools be guardians of every student’s safety from any act of relationship violence, no matter where the act arises or who perpetrates it."


  • Dr. Matthew McCluskey is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Washington State University, and the father of slain University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey.
  • Gillian Friedman is an investigative reporter with the Deseret News' In-depth team. She is the author of What really happened to Lauren McCluskey? The inside story of her tragic death
  • Bill Warren is the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at the University of Utah. 
Doug Fabrizio has been reporting for KUER News since 1987, and became News Director in 1993. In 2001, he became host and executive producer of KUER's RadioWest, a one hour conversation/call-in show on KUER 90.1 in Salt Lake City. He has gained a reputation for his thoughtful style. He has interviewed everyone from Isabel Allende to the Dalai Lama, and from Madeleine Albright to Desmond Tutu. His interview skills landed him a spot as a guest host of the national NPR program, "Talk of the Nation." He has won numerous awards for his reporting and for his work with RadioWest and KUED's Utah NOW from such organizations as the Society of Professional Journalists, the Utah Broadcasters Association, the Public Radio News Directors Association and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.