No suspects. No evidence. No information. No cause. The disappearance of college sophomore, Lauren Spierer on June 3, 2011—still, after 8 months, over $100,000 offered as a reward, multiple segments on America’s Most Wanted, rampant media coverage, thousands of volunteers and nation-wide support—still plays out like an episode of Without a Trace, albeit an ending.
For anyone who may not be familiar with the disappearance of Lauren Spierer, allow me to tell you the bit that has been disclosed to the public. Spierer, a fashion-merchandising major in her sophomore year at Indiana University (located in Bloomington, Indiana) was reported missing on June 4th of this summer. The timeline that has been constructed begins with the popular, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, smiling Spierer heading out of her apartment complex called Smallwood, a luxury, student-populated, 24-hour security-staffed building. From there, Spierer partied at a local-student bar called Sports where she left with a few friends. After an altercation occurred, Spierer went to another friend’s apartment. At about 4 a.m., the last person to have seen Spierer alive said that he watched her leave his apartment and walk towards a traffic light, a mere three blocks away from her own home. The next day, however, Spierer was nowhere to be found. While the case has named many people “persons of interests” and underage drinking and allegations of drug use have surrounded the reports, nothing more than speculation and baseless accusations have been made. Most importantly, Lauren has still, to this day, yet to be found.
Personally, the disappearance of Spierer shakes me to my core; like her, I am a petite college-student, attending a large-scale public university that is quite far from my own home in New York. While the media may be quick to judge her antics the night of her disappearance, I am not. Rather, as a college student myself, the night Spierer reported to have had on June 3rd sounds not much different than the atypical experiences shared by all students of her age alike. With that said, while many people have criticized the attention generated around this case to be disproportional, for so many innocent people are reported missing each and everyday, this argument does not diminish the fact that Lauren is a person, just like you or me, and what happened to her could happen to anyone.
Today, the case of Spierer stands in a position of stalemate, as it had for quite some time. Nevertheless, the many people hoping, searching, and working towards uncovering any information that may lead to finding Lauren has not. Rather, Lauren’s family, friends, and fellow Indiana classmates, among many others, have been active not only in Indiana, but also online—working to spread the message that this young girl is still lost. Through utilizing social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and a website dedicated to this cause called, Find Lauren, which specifically works to update readers about the case, the search for Spierer has reached the consciousness of so many people. Thus, those seeking to find Lauren are still moving with the same motivation, energy, and dedication that they did this summer. They remind people that hope is not yet lost.
Unfortunately, Indiana University is not acting in accordance with Spierer supporters. Recently, it was reported by Fox 59 that IU had taken Spierer-updates off their banner and moved her to a rotating position in order to allow other news to circulate. In attempting to explain their actions, the school stated:
“For now, the ‘find Lauren’ button will be displayed constantly on the site the first week of each month. It also will be in a steady rotation of other news and information items displayed on site. In addition, IU Communications, which administers the site, has designed two new buttons in the hope that a fresh look will continue to draw attention to this important item.
As it has from the beginning, the entire IU community supports the Spierer family as it seeks a resolution to this tragic situation and will continue to help in any way it can. These changes to the IU Bloomington web site in no way diminish the university’s commitment to finding Lauren but rather are an attempt to balance the desire to support the Spierer family with the needs to provide important news and information to all its students via the campus web site.”
I could not be more disappointed with the school’s decision. Though eight months have gone by, Lauren is still a missing person who is a member of the institution’s student body. As a campus community, the university should offer only the most supportive and helpful means to continue to fight for her search and hopeful return, as her friends and family still do. I write this article not only to express my frustration over this issue, but also, to contribute to help bring Lauren home. I urge everyone, college student or not, to participate in every way you can—after all, this is not just a story, but someone’s life.
By: Samantha Tritsch
(Photo by Mark Plummer under a Creative Commons license)