KATE LEONARD | Photo Illustration

Bullying not foreign to BYU-I students

KATE LEONARD | Photo Illustration

KATE LEONARD | Photo Illustration

(Due to the sensitive nature of this article, the names of some of the students have been changed.)

Many students look forward to college as a time to be themselves, free of the cliques and stereotypes of high school and the bullying that accompanies them, but according to study published in the scientific journal Europa PubMed, bullying does not stop after teenage years. In fact, it is 40 percent more likely to continue.

“Nobody realizes that what happens at BYU-Idaho is real and has real consequences,” said Chris Knight (name has been changed), a victim of bullying on BYU-I campus. “A lot of the kids I saw act as bullies didn’t realize that when they repented, the bullying doesn’t stop for [their victims.] [Those kids] have to relive it.”

Knight said such hatred can lead to bullying, and most of the time, these negative feelings are toward a classmate or roommate.

“A lot of kids come to BYU-I thinking they found other kids who can empathize with them on some level,” Knight said. “They don’t realize there is a subculture within our subculture, and rather than talk about it openly, we just devolve into searching for a common enemy to hate in a hope that it will bring us together.”

He said, overall, it seems the victim of bullying seems to be the person that is a little different from everyone else.

“We expect that from people who aren’t Mormon, but when you get that from your own kind, it hurts worse,” Knight said.

Casey Smith (name has been changed), another student who has been a victim of bullying and harassment on the BYU-I campus, said that a lot of bullying seems to come from roommates.

“I think bullying occurs more off of campus then on campus, especially with girls because five-plus girls in one apartment — there’s going to be drama,” Smith said.

Matt Watson, a therapist with LDS Family Services, said a behavior can be called bullying when there is fear and intimidation or when someone says ‘Stop,’ but the behavior continues. He said there is no acknowledgment of the victim’s feelings.”

Bullying can make people feel worthless, friendless and alone, Watson said.

Smith said she has experienced both fear and intimidation.

Smith said that a male classmate started to send her inappropriate texts, but when she asked him to stop, he used intimidation and harassment to make her feel horrible and did not end the behavior.

“I never thought that something like that would happen to me at BYU-I,” Smith said.

According to a Health Day News study done in 2012, 15 percent of college students reported being bullied, and nearly 22 percent of the cases involved cyber-bullying. The study found that when it comes to bullying in college, 38 percent of students know someone who was facing cyber-bullying in college, and about 9 percent said they had cyber-bullied someone else.

The study also found that 42 percent of students said they had seen someone being bullied by another student, and 8 percent reported that they had bullied another student.

Nearly 15 percent had seen a professor bully a student, and 4 percent said they had been bullied by a professor.

Beatrice Johnson, (name has been changed) an alumna of BYU-I, said she experienced bullying while at BYU-I because she was a little different from her roommates.

“I think the students at BYU-I hear how great they are and think if someone doesn’t fit their description of great, they don’t belong at the school,” Johnson said. “I wore dark clothes, sassy t-shirts, had dark red hair for a while. Stuff like that made me stand out in a way that few people appreciate.”

The way to prevent bullying from continuing to occur, especially on a college campus, is to intervene, according to a study done by Indiana State University.

The study said that whether you are a witness to bullying or being bullied, it is important to speak up.

Johnson said that the best way BYU-I students can stop or prevent bullying is to remember that everyone is the same in the sight of God and that no one deserves to be bullied.

“Get educated about bullying, both cyber-bullying and in-person,” Johnson said. “Read up about what Jesus says you’re supposed to do with people who are different, and remember that just because someone is different does not mean they are not your equal in the sight of God.”

Casey Puzey, a student honor administrator for BYU-I, said that when students report cases of bullying, weather it be person to person or online, the Student Honor Office takes it very seriously.

“Occasionally, we get reports of that behavior, sometimes by a person or sometimes on social media, and we take that as a serious offense,” Puzey said. “We investigate the action that needs to be taken for each situation.”

Puzey encourages students who feel bullied or targeted by any behavior that they feel is offensive or makes them uncomfortable to come and report it to the Student Honor Office.

“Our job is to protect students, and we will look into any situation that is reported,” Puzey said. “We want the students to feel safe and let nothing get in the way of the education they are receiving here.”

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