Clementi case still lingers on college campuses

The results of a 2005 survey on DePaul University’s campus climate for LGBTQ students showed that almost 60 percent of LGBTQ students have hidden their sexual identity on campus “for fear of personal safety, discrimination or rejection.” Furthermore, 71 percent of LGBTQ respondents said they witnessed homophobia or hate crimes on campus, and over half of all students surveyed said LGBTQ students were likely to be harassed on campus.

These statistics take on a new light in the aftermath of New Jersey vs. Dharun Ravi, a court case that determined the fate of the former Rutgers University student. On Sept. 19, 2010, Ravi performed the 21st century equivalent of peeking through a keyhole. He remotely turned on his dorm room webcam to view his roommate, fellow freshman Tyler Clementi, kissing another man. Clementi jumped off a New Jersey bridge the day after Ravi “dare[d]” his Twitter followers to watch Clementi on a second occasion. On May 21, Ravi was found guilty of 14 counts, including invasion of privacy and evidence tampering. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a counseling program on cyberbullying and alternative lifestyles, along with fines, community service, and probation.

DePaul junior Jose Juarez said this case reveals a larger picture of discrimination and homophobia. “Cases like these definitely allow people to think, ‘Hmm, maybe there is something socially and judicially wrong,” Juarez said. “I am not too sure if it will create harsher sentences, but I think it will gain momentum to create change.”

DePaul professor Gary Cestaro, director of DePaul’s LGBTQ Studies program, said he was willing to accept the sentence as reasonable but was concerned that Ravi has offered no public apology and that his attorneys are already planning an appeal. “I hope it makes college students think more about the personal challenges faced by some of their LGBTQ classmates,” Cestaro said. “College campuses should offer a non-threatening, supportive environment for students grappling with issues of sexual and gender identity.”
Prior to the webcam spying, Clementi struggled with his sexuality. According to messages on his computer, his mother re?