Prof. Amos Guiora wins Distinguished Faculty Service Award for Bystander Initiative

Mar 30, 2023 | Criminal Law Program

The S.J. Quinney College of Law is pleased to share that Professor Amos Guiora has been selected as a recipient of the 2023 Distinguished Faculty Service Award from the U’s Bennion Center for Community Engagement.

This award comes in recognition of Guiora’s ongoing work with the College of Law’s Bystander Initiative, which he helped establish in 2021 and directs. This multifaceted initiative seeks to address the problems caused when individuals and institutions fail to take action to stop abuse. To date, the initiative has undertaken numerous projects including a book, law review article, and legislative efforts that focus on the role of the bystander and enabler in the U.S. and globally.

Prof. Amos Guiora with Dan Barber, a private investigator whose work in part led to the initiation of the Bystander Initiative.

“Focusing the attention on the enablers, that has never been done before. This is all new,” said Guiora. “For the survivors it means that somebody actually believes them. And not only believes them, but is willing to go [seriously fight] on their behalf.”

Currently, Guiora works alongside six student research assistants, including two students from the College of Law and four undergraduates from the University of Utah Honors College.

“I have no doubt that to work on this project is awful. The material is terrible. But I do think there is a sense of — my word — purpose, and I’ve seen their dedication and commitment,” said Guiora of the students. “You find material and it confronts you. And I think for them, this is not an abstract project. This is a very concrete project.”

Aya Hibben, one of the research assistants who works with Guiora, described the opportunity to be a part of the Bystander Initiative as the “single most impactful experience” of her undergraduate education.

In addition to spreading awareness about the direct consequences of ignoring survivors and advocating for the criminalization of the bystander and enabler, Hibben described Guiora’s research as being “validating to victims, who have felt the direct effect of someone ignoring their story.”

“Personally, Professor Guiora’s support for me as a victim as well as a research assistant, has been life changing,” said Hibben. “I never imagined to be trusted to help research for a law review article as an undergraduate, let alone be added as a co-author. His mentorship, support, and care for all of his students is something that dozens of [us] will remember for the rest of [our] lives.”

Guiora’s Distinguished Faculty Service Award comes with a $1,000 prize to be donated to the charitable organization of his choice, and he has decided to direct the gift to the Bystander Initiative. All gifts to the Bystander Initiative directly support student research assistants to further its work. These experiential opportunities allow the College of Law to compete for and attract highly qualified students to research and study under the mentorship of Professor Guiora.

Looking to the future of the Bystander Initiative, Guiora said, “I think it enables the law school to be not only the national leader, but the international leader [on this work].”

You can contribute to the Bystander Initiative’s essential work by making a gift here.