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Spierer Case Prompted Student Safety Initiatives

IU junior vanished three years ago Tuesday

Lauren Spierer (file photo)

The disappearance of Indiana University student Lauren Spierer three years ago today has led to new efforts to keep students safe on and around campus.

Spierer's disappearance led to the creation of a bystander intervention training program, offering students a chance to learn ways to defuse dangerous situations from drunkenness to assault. Dean of Students Pete Goldsmith says about a thousand students signed up for training this year. That's a small percentage of a campus of 42,000, but Goldsmith says the hope is that as the number grows, it will pass a tipping point and create a culture change, with intervention becoming the expected behavior.

IU's mandatory alcohol-awareness orientation for incoming students dates back before the Spierer case. And although it was related only indirectly to the disappearance, Indiana is one of nine states to pass a Lifeline law, giving students immunity from alcohol charges if they call 911 to help someone facing an alcohol-related medical emergency. Legislators passed the law eight months after Spierer was last seen, and expanded it this year to cover emergency calls for drug overdoses or sexual assaults.

Goldsmith says there are no special observances planned on campus to mark the anniversary of Spierer's disappearance.

Spierer's parents are pursuing a lawsuit against two of their daughter's classmates, accusing them of furnishing her alcohol after she was already drunk. The case is scheduled for trial next May.

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