Rutgers Dedicates Center in Name of Tyler Clementi
The center at the Rutgers New Brunswick campus will provide support for college students transitioning from high school and address issues of bullying.
Rutgers University on Friday announced plans to create a new center that will focus on issues confronting vulnerable youth in the name of the late Tyler Clementi.
Clementi was an 18-year-old freshman at the university when he jumped off the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22, 2010. His high-profile suicide spurred international debates on the role of cyberbullying and LBGT issues among youth.
Although the family of Clementi once filed legal action allowing them to sue the university, time has apparently healed the wounds. Joseph and Jane Clementi, long-time residents of Ridgewood, appeared at a symposium in 2011 at the university.
The creation of the center is a joint effort between Rutgers and the foundation they set up in memory of their son in 2011.
The partnership announced Friday will "draw from academic disciplines across the university and throughout the nation to create new programs and approaches to address issues that confront young people – specifically youth making the transition from home to college," the university said in a statement.
It will be staffed by university professors.
"The center will offer lectures, symposia and training on such topics as the use and misuse of new technologies and social media; youth suicide – particularly among LGBTQ youth and other young people – during the transition to adulthood; adjustment and assimilation into college life; bullying and cyberbullying; and understanding and promoting safe and inclusive social environments," the university said.
"The goal of the center is to provide scholarly support for the work of policymakers, social activists, community leaders and other advocates for vulnerable youth."
"Part of what was such an interest in Tyler’s story was that it affected so many people on so many different levels," Jane Clementi, Tyler's mother told The New York Times. "It’s the transitional period, it’s the cyberbullying, it’s how our youth are dealing with this new technology, L.G.B.T. issues, suicide."
The roommate of the Rutgers freshman, Dharun Ravi, served a 20-day jail sentence following his conviction on bias intimidation charges. Ravi had used a webcam to film Clementi engaging in romantic relations with another man, inviting others to watch. Clementi had lodged a complaint with the university hours before he drove to the bridge.
The reasons for his death, however, still remain somewhat unclear.
A talented and quiet violinist, Clementi told his parents he was gay just weeks before arriving at the university. While his father was accepting, his mother, a devout Evangelical Christian, did not react well to the news.
"Mom has basically completely rejected me," Tyler wrote in a text to a friend.
The family has since left the Ridgewood's Grace Church and created the foundation, an organization tasked to provide support and inclusion to the LGBT community.
The center will be dedicated on Monday at the university's New Brunswick campus.