TUCSON, Ariz. (CBS Las Vegas) — A University of Arizona student sparked controversy when he brought a sign that said “You Deserve Rape” to the school’s campus in the hours leading up to a rape and sexual assault awareness event.
The student, Dean Saxton, brought the offending sign to campus the afternoon preceding Tuesday evening’s “Take Back the Night” event, which was organized to promote awareness of domestic violence and sexual abuse against women.
Saxton, a junior majoring in religious studies and classics, has publicly stated during outdoor sermons frequently offered by him that “if you dress like a whore, act like a whore, you’re probably going to get raped,” according to the university’s newspaper, the Daily Wildcat.
“I think that girls that dress and act like it,” Saxton, who also refers to himself as Brother Dean Samuel, was quoted as saying, “they should realize that they do have partial responsibility, because I believe that they’re pretty much asking for it.”
Several students took issue with Saxton’s opinions. Some chose to challenge him by arguing his words or holding signs of their own that contrast his views. Others complained to the Office of the Dean of Students.
Despite complaints, though, administrators’ hands were reportedly tied.
“We find [the sign] to be vulgar and vile,” interim dean of students Kendal Washington White told the Daily Wildcat. “However, it is protected speech. He has yet to, at this point, violate the student code of conduct.”
Joe Bermudez, a spokesperson with the University of Arizona Police Department, told the Daily Wildcat that several calls were made to their precinct regarding an incident that occurred while Saxton displayed the sign in which another student tried to pull the offending sign down.
But whether or not they made their ire known to Saxton, many students took issue with his stance.
“I think if he’s trying to … get people to know God, I think he’s just doing it wrong,” student Paola Gonzalez told the paper. “It is free speech, but I still disagree that he should be able to call other people names and we can’t call him names. He shouldn’t be able to call us names, either.”