More than a year after Lauren Spierer disappeared after a night of partying with friends near Indiana University, her parents hope that some suggestions for improved campus safety become reality.
Charlene and Robert Spierer attended freshman honors classes Thursday discussing ideas for The Lauren Project, aimed at increasing awareness of potential dangers that students face. Lauren Spierer, 20, of Greenburgh, was last seen in June 2011 in downtown Bloomington, Ind.
Suggestions from the classes included a revamped night shuttle service and a campaign encouraging all students to have a friend with them whenever they're out at night, the Herald-Times reported.
"In a school of 40,000, it's so easy to feel alone. That's not how it should be," 18-year-old Julianne Howell, of St. Louis, said during her group's presentation. "We want this idea to mean that we're all there. The idea needs to spread to a mentality. Every single night, you look out for each other."
Her group's proposal would have stores carry Hoosier Buddy merchandise, bars give discounts to those wearing Hoosier Buddy gear and bouncers and bartenders ask whether patrons have buddies with them.
"We actually hope it grows into a mentality," group member Alyssa Sheets of Munster said after the presentation. "College is a time when people drink an obscene amount of alcohol and expand their horizons experimenting with unhealthy substances."
Robert and Charlene Spierer traveled from their New York home to listen to students' ideas.
They spent weeks in Bloomington after their daughter disappeared and hundreds of volunteers joined searches around Bloomington and parts of the surrounding wooded countryside that is dotted with old limestone quarries and lakes. They've said they assume their daughter is dead.
"It would be so nice to see it go forth and to do some good somewhere, because it's a tragedy for our family, so something positive would be great," Charlene Spierer told WTHR-TV.
Robert Spierer said the students' ideas could improve safety, pointing to the push by several college student groups that helped lead to a new state law that shields people from alcohol-related arrests if they seek medical help for those who are dangerously intoxicated.
"You saw the student power with the lifeline law," he said. "We're happy to be a part of that."
Roughly a year after Lauren Spierer vanished, her family said they have given up hope that she'll turn up alive. The parents have launched a website, findlauren.com, as part of their efforts to learn their daughter's fate.
"What we want more than anything is to show Lauren the respect she deserves by bringing her home," Charlene Spierer wrote last month.