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Photo by Aaron Bernstein, The Indianapolis Star/AP Photo

Photo by Aaron Bernstein, The Indianapolis Star/AP Photo

Last week marked five months since Indiana University fashion student Lauren Spierer disappeared. The petite 20-year-old was last seen walking home from a friend’s apartment at around 4 a.m. on June 3. Despite search parties, extensive media coverage, and the Bloomington Police Department’s ongoing investigation, Spierer’s whereabouts and the exact events that took place that night remain a mystery.

Since her disappearance, fall classes are in full swing, IU students have returned to campus and continue to go out and have a good time with their friends.

But Spierer’s absence has not gone unnoticed.

“Being in Indiana without Lauren is surreal,” Amara Brenner, one of Spierer’s closest friends at school said. “I see her missing poster everywhere I go. She is everywhere, but nowhere. I look at pictures of her and my heart melts.”

Spierer’s group of friends struggle to wrap their heads around her disappearance every day. They serve as a support system for one another and constantly remind each other to stay positive.

“My friends and I try to stay strong and not get too emotional,” Brenner said. “Stories are shared about times we had with Lauren like she still is with us, but just not here, but somewhere and safe.”

Most importantly, Spierer’s friends are hyper-aware of the dangers they face when going out. They have taken measures to ensure that they all stay safe.

However, they feel their efforts have been counteracted by the Bloomington Police.

When Brenner’s friend was arrested for being drunk and taken to jail, the young girl’s friends stayed awake until 5 a.m. so they could pick her up when she was released. However, the police never called.

“The police never called her friend and made her walk home alone at 5 in the morning,” Brenner explained. “When she asked for a ride they said, ‘there’s a cabstand a block away.’ They don’t care about the students or our safety, they care about money and it’s really hurtful, Lauren could still be here if they cared a little more about us and not their income.”

Brenner said that while the police have become much stricter on underage drinking at bars, they have not improved on patrolling desolate areas.

“They don’t care about wandering students in the streets, they go right to the most popular area of town where there are a lot of people and look for someone to arrest,” Brenner explained. “There’s no extra security, this town is filled with crazy people and the police neglect that and focus on the students with money who they can get in trouble and make money off of.”

Calls to the Bloomington Police Department for comment were not returned.

While IU students worry about their safety and face the realities of Spierer’s disappearance, students across the country have been inspired by her story, and taken action to raise money and awareness.

On Tuesday, the Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority at University of Maryland, College Park held a fundraiser at Jason’s Deli, where 10 percent of a customer’s order was donated to the Lauren Spierer fund when they presented a flyer.

“In my opinion, the event went very well and there were many customers who handed in the flyer,” Jenna Graime, a sophomore in the sorority at UM, said. One of Spierer’s cousins is a member of the chapter.

Hannah Lyons, a junior at Muhlenberg College, met Spierer at Camp Towanda in the summer of 2000. Her good friend’s disappearance has motivated her to try to keep other students safe.

“I sat my friends down and promised that no matter where we were I would always walk them home,” Lyons said. “Also, there have been more than one instances where I have picked up girls who were walking alone late at night. Before Lauren disappeared I would not have thought twice about picking up a student I did not personally know.”

Lyons is currently in the process of planning a fundraiser on Muhlenberg’s campus, which would include a self-defense class.

At IU, students, with the help of local businesses and various others, organized Shine4Lauren, a concert featuring three bands to raise awareness and encourage students to share any information they may have.

“It was a beautiful concert, thousands of people showed up to support Lauren, her family, and friends,” Brenner said.

Spierer’s disappearance has affected people nationwide and changed the lives of those who know her forever. They will never view the world the same way.

“If I could say anything to Lauren, I would tell her how much we all love and miss her and I would never let her out of my sight,” Brenner said. “She is such a great girl and I’d do anything to go back to a moment with her, where she is safe and sound. We are waiting for you Lauren, and we won’t give up. Your story is a part of our lives now and until we find you, there will always be something wrong and incomplete. I’m praying every second and won’t ever stop. We love you so much Lauren Elizabeth Spierer, please come home.”

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