Campus News

UGA committed to campus safety as community mourns tragic loss

(UGA file photo)

University focused on further investments in security enhancements, while support services remain available for students, faculty and staff

As the news of the UGA Police Department arresting a suspect for the murder of 22-year-old Laken Riley brought some closure to a campus reeling from senseless violence, the University of Georgia community continues the collective grieving process and mourns a life lost.

Laken was brutally attacked on Feb. 22 as she jogged on the trails beyond the Intramural Fields. Laken attended UGA as a student until May 2023, when she transferred to the Augusta University College of Nursing at Athens. She remained actively involved in her sorority at UGA.

The UGA Police Department, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Athens-Clarke County Police Department and federal law enforcement partners worked tirelessly to arrest a suspect on Feb. 23 who is being charged with multiple violations including malice murder and felony murder.

Speaking to students at UGA Miracle’s Dance Marathon on Saturday, UGA President Jere W. Morehead commended the UGA Police Department and all other police agencies for their round-the-clock efforts to bring the suspect into custody and bring some sense of closure to the campus community.

“The safety and security of this campus is always center in my mind and center in all of the leadership on this campus,” Morehead said on Saturday. “In fact, earlier this week, we had just approved the launch of some new initiatives related to more lighting, more cameras on this campus. We have got to do the best we can to protect the individuals on this campus, and I remain committed to that effort.”

UGA has put in place comprehensive measures to protect students, faculty, staff, and guests—including $16 million invested over the last eight years to hire more police personnel, design and install an extensive security camera network, enhance lighting, establish a nightly rideshare program, and create a widely used UGA Safe app. Morehead said he will be meeting with campus police again this week to learn if they have any other recommendations for implementation in this exhaustive, ongoing effort.

Attendees of the Dance Marathon observed a moment of silence for Laken and another student who passed away last Wednesday in Brumby Hall, recognizing and remembering the loss of two vibrant members of the campus community.

“I also want to thank all of you for your resiliency, for coming together as a campus community, for supporting each other during one of the most difficult times in the history of this institution,” Morehead said, noting the incredible perseverance demonstrated by all those in attendance for supporting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

The student Greek organizations Alpha Chi Omega and Kappa Sigma are jointly hosting a vigil at Tate Plaza on Monday, Feb. 26, at 3 p.m. to remember the two students we have lost. This service is open to the campus community.

A number of resources are available to help students, faculty and staff cope with grief and other personal challenges. Students are encouraged to contact Student Care and Outreach (, 706-542-8479), Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) is available 24/7 and stands ready to assist as well (, 706-542-2273).

Below is a list of resources that are available to UGA faculty and staff:

  • The Acentra Health Employee Assistance Program provides 24/7 access to free counseling specialists for employees for mental health and emotional support. Sessions can be conducted virtually or in person ( or 844-243-4440).
  • Anthem BCBS’ Emotional Well-being Resources program provides support for employees enrolled in one of the Anthem healthcare plans. Employees can schedule a virtual appointment with a mental health specialist 24/7 at or 800-424-8950.
  • Kaiser Permanente members can get connected to a mental health professional by calling 404-365-0966 or visiting