Many members of the university community have gathered in the wake of the Sept. 22 suicide of a Rutgers University freshman, as part of an effort to prevent instances of anti-LGBTQ bias on the Hilltop.
Tyler Clementi committed suicide after his roommate video-streamed his sexual encounter with another man online.
Rehana Mohammed (SFS ’12), co-programming chair for GU Pride, said that the news of Clementi’s death was difficult to comprehend.
“It’s a horrifying crime that was committed against him and even more horrifying was the fact that he felt that he had to take his own life to get rid of the shame that surrounded him because of the event,” Mohammed said.
Clementi’s roommate Dharun Ravi, 18, and Molly Wei, 18, were both charged with two counts of invasion of privacy and could potentially be charged with bias intimidation, according to CNN.
Under New Jersey law, to be found guilty of bias intimidation, a person must commit a crime with the intent to intimidate someone based on their race, religion, gender, color, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, ethnicity or national origin.
In an email sent out Friday, the LGBTQ Resource Center offered support for students who are struggling with the recent series of LGBTQ-related suicides across the country. 13-year-old Seth Walsh, of Tehachapi, Calif., Billy Lucas, 15, of Greensburg, Ind., and Asher Brown, a 13-year-old from the Houston suburbs, are believed to have committed suicide in recent weeks after persistent bullying by their peers.
“We must stand together to support those individuals who are negatively affected or in crisis because of the words or actions of others,” the email said.
James Saucedo (MSB ’13), co-chair of Leaders in Education About Diversity, a university initiative that seeks to educate about diversity and identity, said that these events are effects of a culture that does not always accept diversity.
“These incidents are linked to the stigmatizing of non-heterosexual people that most American children face growing up,” Saucedo said, “Clementi was taught to be ashamed of his gay identity. That shame was reinforced by his community in the form of his roommate who thought it funny to secretly video his encounters with another man and spread the video on the Internet.”
Saucedo said the nature of the socialization of American youth can contribute to these outbreaks of bias behavior.
“Unfortunately this socialization begins in childhood and by the time folks reach a college campus, that heterosexist thinking is deeply ingrained in the mind and reinforced by structures around us.”
Subbaraman said that she wants students to know there are resources and a supportive community available on campus.
“We have worked very hard on the Georgetown campus to make sure that our students feel heard, safe and included,” the center said in an email.”We can, and we must work toward creating an environment where all members of the LGBTQ community do not feel they are alone, and where bullying, harassment and any form of harm are not acceptable.”
Despite these efforts by the LGBTQ Resource Center on campus, some students said they still feel that Georgetown needs to improve open communication on these issues.
“I think that hate crimes in general – and any other prejudice act – is something that is not really discussed at Georgetown,” Mohammed said, “I think that the administration should take preemptive steps to support the community before we are victim to the same tragedy.”