student on campus with caption 'why are you following me around campus' (l) student greenscreen TikTok over Instagram post of official statement with caption 'I'm sorry this happened to you. It's not ok for someone to make you feel so unsafe' (c) student on campus with caption 'at this point, i was so uncomfortable. my hands were shaking. my heart was beating very fast.' (r)

@realsebastiansj/TikTok @realsebastiansj/TikTok @realsebastiansj/TikTok Remix by Caterina Cox

‘I feel so completely unsafe’: Black BYU student followed around on campus by peer and faculty

The student is a member of the Black Menaces, an activism group on campus.


Tricia Crimmins


Posted on Sep 26, 2023   Updated on Oct 9, 2023, 11:28 am CDT

A Brigham Young University student member of the Black Menaces, an activism group on campus, says he was followed around by a student and faculty member while recording videos for the group.

Sebastian Stewart-Johnson, a senior at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, has garnered a TikTok following by interviewing his peers about social justice issues and posting footage of the interviews online.

He is also the executive director of the Black Menaces, an activism nonprofit focused on empowering marginalized communities. In recent TikTok videos, Stewart-Johnson says that he was followed and harassed by another BYU student, who has been identified as Jacob Christensen.

“You guys are the worst piece of journalism I’ve ever seen,” Christensen is seen telling Stewart-Johnson in a video.

On Tuesday, Stewart-Johnson’s initial video about Christensen had over a million views on TikTok.

@realsebastiansj this was just the beginning. he kept following me for a lot more time #byu #utah #blackmenaces ♬ original sound – sebastian sj (black menace)

Stewart-Johnson says in a TikTok that Christensen made him very uncomfortable and followed him around campus despite Stewart-Johnson asking him to stop. Christensen is also seen blocking the person recording Stewart-Johnson as he interviews students.

A statement posted on Instagram by The Cougar Chronicle, a conservative news outlet that covers BYU of which Christensen is the Editor in Chief, reveals that a faculty member “encouraged” Christensen to interrupt Stewart-Johnson’s videos, as the outlet believes that the Black Menaces engage in “deceptive tactics” to “humiliate and exploit BYU students on their social media” accounts. The Cougar Chronicle is not officially affiliated with BYU, as is described in the publication’s Instagram bio.

Stewart-Johnson identified the faculty member as Karen Strange, who works in BYU’s McKay School of Education—though her faculty page is no longer available on BYU’s website—and says that Strange called the cops on him, which the Cougar Chronicle confirms. In a statement to the Salt Lake Tribune on the situation, BYU did not confirm that Strange was still employed by the school.

BYU’s mission statement on race, equity, and belonging states that “rooting out racism, healing its wounds, and building bridges of understanding is the responsibility of every member of the BYU community.”

BYU hopes that its student body and staff will listen to its “beloved Black BYU community to understand how racism has frustrated and continues to frustrate their experiences at BYU.” Stewart-Johnson says that Strange’s behavior is counter to the school’s statement.

“I don’t understand how BYU faculty and admin want to suppress Black Menaces and my TikTok so bad,” Stewart-Johnson says. “Because it doesn’t fit their agenda [on race].”

Since his interactions with Christensen, Stewart-Johnson says that his mental health has struggled and that he wishes he didn’t have to return to campus.

“I feel so completely unsafe and uncomfortable at BYU,” Stewart-Johnson says in a recent TikTok. “I don’t trust BYU faculty members.”

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that BYU’s Office of Belonging invited Stewart-Johnson to “talk with them about his concerns,” in a statement by university spokesperson Carri Jenkins.

The Daily Dot has reached out to BYU and the Cougar Chronicle.

Update 3:52pm CT, Sept. 27: In an interview with the Daily Dot, Stewart-Johnson said that BYU has invited him to speak with its Office of Belonging and that the school’s Title IX office has contacted him. He doesn’t feel comfortable talking with either office because he’s not familiar with their staff members, but he would like BYU to say they will investigate the situation

“The muteness of BYU only exemplifies the culture at BYU,” Stewart-Johnson told the Daily Dot.

He also said that at BYU, his experience with the university’s administration isn’t an anomaly: Many other students, namely students of color and queer students, have also felt that BYU has not protected them against prejudice on campus.

“My story is just one of many,” Stewart-Johnson said. “I’m just privileged enough to have a platform with which I can talk about it very openly and get a lot of attention.”

He plans to graduate from BYU in December—a semester earlier than planned.

“BYU is very uncomfortable,” Stewart-Johnson said. “This experience only exemplifies the fact that I need to be out of BYU as soon as I possibly can.

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*First Published: Sep 26, 2023, 3:34 pm CDT