Several weeks after Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi's tragic suicide, people are still debating the takeaway from the terrible story. College students around the country are writing about Clementi in their campus newspapers, expressing their takes on the lessons their campuses should learn. Rutgers' own Daily Targum chimed in this week with a controversial editorial that essentially blamed the media for making too much of the Clementi story instead of letting the campus mourn him in a more private fashion. The editors write:
The focal point of Clementi's tragic death should have been a boy's inability to deal with the hardships of life. And yet the news and certain organizations picked this up and carried it into the ranks of general causes for major social groups - for their profit...It is disappointing that everyone from news to celebrities picked up the story. Actress Brittany Snow and actor Neil Patrick-Harris are just two of the many celebrities belittling Clementi's death - forcing his remembrance into a cause rather than a proper mourning.
The editors believe that it's better to "mourn for Clementi, and just for him, rather than using him as a martyr for a cause that has yet to be proven." But Towleroad's Andrew Belonsky maintains that "activists and media would have acted irresponsibly had we let Clementi's death be turned into a footnote, rather than a rally for change." Moving beyond just the opinion of this one op-ed, campuses around the country are debating how Clementi's story affects their communities. Here, a sampling:
Get rid of "homophobic laws": "These teenagers are not merely victims of a few bullies from their school but victims of a political environment polluted by hazardous, hateful, and homophobic rhetoric," says Ryan M. Rossner in the Harvard Crimson. We need a broad, sweeping change because "homophobic laws and lack of proper legal protections send a message to the bullies and bullied of America that being gay is still not ok." Creating a "more tolerant and welcoming climate for all students" would be true "climate change."
Don't blame the internet for Clementi's death: "It's time for 'Generation Me' to take some responsibility," says an editorial in the Arizona Daily Wildcat. These "bullycide" stories reflect that "we let ourselves get jaded and bored, and meanness crept in to take the place of passion and interest." Let's remember that even in an age of BlackBerries, "If you hurt someone with your words or actions, intentionally or otherwise, it's on you."
We can prevent the next tragedy: We must accept that "there are daily acts of hate, bias and discrimination in lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and transgender communities that go unnoticed or unreported," says Terri Phoenix in the University of North Carolina Daily Tar Heel. It's time to "commit to end this bigotry, shame, and harassment." This way, Clementi's death will pave the way for "more just, inclusive, welcoming and equitable campuses, communities and world."
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