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Gay Student Group Calls for Expulsions in Clementi Case

by Kilian Melloy
Friday Oct 8, 2010

A GLBT students' group has called for the expulsion of two Rutgers University students charged in connection with the suicide of Tyler Clementi.

In an Oct. 7 press release, Campus Pride demanded that school officials at Rutgers expel Clementi's roommate Dharun Ravi, and also another student, Molly Wei. The two have been charged with invasion of privacy and New Jersey authorities say that the two might face bias crimes charges as well.

Clementi, 18, was a freshman at the university, located in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He leapt to his death from the George Washington Bridge several days after Ravi, secretly recorded Clementi's intimate encounter with another man and streamed the images online. "Roommate asked for the room till midnight," a Sept. 19 tweet from Ravi read. "I went into molly's [sic] room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay."

Ravi later attempted to spy on Clementi again. A Sept. 21 message from Ravi invited readers to tune in once more: "I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12," Ravi sent out. "Yes, it's happening again."

Clementi posted one last message at his Facebook account before his death: "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry."

Previous to that last Facebook post, a series of postings by a user identified as cit2mo at a gay site called JustUsBoys.com described a situation identical to that of Clementi. A Sept. 21 posting at the site read, "he was in another person's room, with other people... and so I feel like it was 'look at what a fag my roommate is'--other people have commented on his profile with things like 'how did you manage to go back in there?' 'are you ok?'."

Cit2mo continued, "and the fact that the people he was with saw my making out with a guy [w]as the scandal whereas i mean come on...he was SPYING ON ME....do they see nothing wrong with this? unsettling to say the least...."

The postings at JustUsBoys.com ceased on Sept. 22--the day that Clementi jumped to his death.

Media attention on suicide victims subjected to bullying and harassment has tended to focus on high schoolers, middle schoolers, and even younger students. But life of gays on college campuses can be just as difficult, as reported in a recent EDGE article. Even as the net and airwaves filled with the news of Clementi's suicide, another gay student, 19-year-old Raymond Chase, a sophomore at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, took his own life.

A string of suicides by GLBT youth targeted by bullies has taken place recently. The day after Clementi's jump, a gay 13-year-old in Texas, Asher Brown, shot and killed himself after enduring what his parents said was "years" of bullying.

The rash of suicides has sparked national awareness of anti-gay bullying and harassment face by LGBT youth, and drawn attention to a recently-launched initiative, called "It Gets Better," in which celebrities and everyday people post messages of hope and affirmation directed at gay youths who may be suffering. Among those who have contributed to the project are Tim Gunn, Dan Savage, Chris Colfer, and Perez Hilton, among many others. In his message, Gunn refers to his own suicide attempt at age 17, when he swallowed "more than one hundred pills" in an unsuccessful bid to kill himself. "I frankly just wanted to start life all over again," Gunn recollects.

"Campus Pride's '2010 State of Higher Education for LGBT People' released last month shows that LGBT incidents of harassment and discrimination are neither rare nor fleeting--they are real," the Campus Pride release said. "The national study indicates that one quarter (23%) of LGBQ staff, faculty, and students reported experiencing harassment. An even greater percentage of transgender students, faculty, & staff reported experiencing harassment (39%), often more overt and blatant on campus."

The release added, "Rutgers University has a clear violation of its own student code of conduct to enforce for the safety and privacy of all students." The release cited the Rutgers University Code of Student Conduct, which warns students against "making or attempting to make an audio or video recording of any person(s) on University premises in bathrooms, showers, bedrooms, or other premises where there is an expectation of privacy with respect to nudity and/or sexual activity, without the knowledge and consent of all participants subject to such recordings."

The university's president, Richard McCormick, said that he had looked into the incident, the Associated Press reported on Oct. 7. "I believe we did all we could and we did the right thing," McCormick said.

Clementi was memorialized both on the Rutgers campus and in his hometown. A moment of silence was observed in Clementi's honor at the start of Rutgers' homecoming football game against Tulane in Oct. 2; the following day, hundreds of students and others gathered for a candlelight vigil in Clementi's honor. McCormick called the gathering an occasion to "reaffirm our commitment to the values of civility, dignity, compassion and respect."

At a town meeting in Clementi's home town of Ridgewood, N.J., Nikomeh Anderson, a friend of Clementi's, addressed those gathered in Clementi's memory, the New York Times reported on Oct. 7.

"No one deserves to have their private life made public," Anderson said. "Imagine how violated, embarrassed, angry and ashamed he must have been."

A national movement has been started at Facebook to encourage GLBT youth and supporters to wear purple articles of clothing on Oct. 20 in memory of recent LGBT youths who have killed themselves.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


Comments

  • , 2010-10-08 22:08:46

    I do not understand McCormicks comment "I believe we did all we could and we did the right thing," If the two perpetrators are still students at Rutgers then McCormick has clearly not done ever thing that the can do, especially after this extreme flagrant violation of Rutgers own policy.


  • , 2010-10-08 22:34:13

    How could students secretly film and stream another student having sex and still be allowed there?!


  • Jim Lilley, 2010-10-09 14:20:43

    How could these students remain enrolled when the school’s reputation is on the line? What was a fine institution... Need I say more?


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