Post originally published on Change.org
As recently reported on change.org, Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi committed suicide on September 22 by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. His roommate secretly videotaped him engaging in sexual acts with another man. Dharun Ravi and his friend Molly Wei, then broadcast the videos on the Internet. Tyler was so distraught that he took his own life.
This is absolutely horrific on so many levels. It is unclear if Tyler was out with his sexual orientation. If he was not and his roommate outed him, this is cruel and inhumane. What makes it even more horrific is how his roommate invaded his privacy and broadcasted his intimate moments for fun. This is a hate crime and it’s cyber bullying.
As a Rutgers employee, my heart goes out to the campus community. The entire campus is distraught and confused by this tragedy. Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick released a statement to express his heartfelt remorse. He wrote: “While there is a lot of information being communicated, we don’t have all the facts in this case. This young man was reportedly the victim of an incident that took place in one of our residence halls last week. Two fellow Rutgers students have been arrested and charged with invasion of privacy for their actions in that incident. If the charges are true, these actions gravely violate the university’s standards of decency and humanity.” On the evening of September 29, about 100 people gathered for a vigil on campus. Laying on the ground, they chanted: ”We’re here, we’re queer, we’re not going home.”
College is supposed to be a joyful time of self-exploration. Freshman year is supposed to be full of wonder and promise. Young people are at the age of developing their identity and exploring who they are in the world. College provides an amazing environment for this journey. But this nightmare also shows what can happen if there are people within this environment who do not agree with or approve of your own personal journey. If Tyler had a more sensitive and caring roommate, perhaps this would not have happened.
These hate crimes need to stop. Cyber bullying needs to be a federal crime. As a nation, we need to ensure that our school systems are better prepared to assist students who face such torment. We need to set stricter penalties for those who impose their hate onto others. We need more awareness and education into this new world of cyber bullying. The internet provides endless access to so many people and one’s privacy can be taken away in an instant. This is a dangerous and scary situation, and for Tyler, it was all too real.
Sign the petition to tell Congress to enact federal legislation to fight cyber bullying. We must work together to prevent further hate crimes and the devastating consequences that follow. Act now!
To read the post on Change.org, click here.