Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2010.10.03
Brought to you by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. http://www.lgbtcampus.org
Archives of the QNOC Digest can be found at http://queernewsoncampus.blogspot.com
Reminder: If you come across articles that should be included in the digest, please email a link to the article to firstname.lastname@example.org
1. UMass Amherst - Out and About: The Stonewall Center celebrates 25 years
2. University at Buffalo News Center - Jonathan Katz, Noted Art Historian And Scholar of Queer Studies, Joins UB Faculty
3. The Daily Pennsylvanian (UPenn) - LGBT interest on the rise
4. CNN AC360 Blog - Assistant Michigan AG targets openly gay college student
5. New University (UC-Irvine) - UCI’S LGBTQ Activists Speak Out
6. The Miscellany News (Vassar College) - Shifts in approach to LGBTQ recruiting
7. The Providence Journal - Student protest at URI library scores one of its objectives
8. Star Tribune - Augsburg shows the colors of tolerance
9. The Star-Ledger - Rutgers freshman is presumed dead in suicide after roommate broadcast gay sexual encounter online
10. The Providence Journal - URI student faces charges
11. QSaltLake - U of U Shades of Queer
12. The Daily Cougar (University of Houston) - SGA passes resolution for transgender students at midweek meeting
13. The Michigan Daily - MSA President Chris Armstrong responds publicly to criticism
14. The Michigan Daily - AG's office: Shirvell took leave of office on own accord, will be subject to disciplinary hearing upon return
15. The Michigan Daily - Viewpoint: 'U' supports Chris Armstrong
16. Inside Higher Ed - Deadly Warning
17. CNN - Michigan attorney general defends employee's right to blog
18. The New York Times - Private Moment Made Public, Then a Fatal Jump
19. 365Gay/Associated Press - 19-year-old gay college student commits suicide
20. Associated Press - NJ student's suicide illustrates Internet danger
21. ABC News - Bias Crime Charges Weighed After NJ Teen's Suicide
22. The New York Times - Official to Face Hearing Over Blog Attacks
23. The News-Times - WestConn students say campus accepting, but with exceptions
24. The Providence Journal - R.I. News Digest: URI students end sit-in at library
25. PBS NewsHour - Rutgers Student's Suicide Prompts Privacy, Cyber-Bullying Debates/Student's Death Sparks Questions on Privacy in the Digital Age
26. The New York Times - Bullying, Suicide, Punishment
27. News 14 Carolina - College fair held to introduce LGBT-friendly campuses
28. Detroit Free Press - Assistant AG to face a hearing: Discipline sought after campus ban
29. Daily Camera - CU-Boulder students proposing gender-blind housing
30. The Star-Ledger - Rutgers student Tyler Clementi's suicide spurs action across U.S.
31. The Star-Ledger - Hundreds attend Rutgers University's candlelight vigil in memory of Tyler Clementi
1. UMass Amherst, September 24, 2010
200 Munson Hall, Amherst, MA 01003
Out and About: The Stonewall Center celebrates 25 years
By University Relations
UMass Amherst ranks in the top 20 campuses nationwide among LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) students, according to The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students. Based on thousands of interviews and in-depth research, the guide evaluates support services, housing, administrative policies, academics, campus social life, student organizations, and the local community to figure each school’s “Gay Point Average.”
“So objectively, UMass Amherst comes out very well,” says Genny Beemyn, director of the Stonewall Center, the campus’s LGBT educational resource center. “Subjectively, we also come out well. Students will tell you our campus is a nice place to be, and a lot of students feel comfortable being out, holding hands on campus, or presenting as gender nonconforming. Many students choose UMass Amherst because they know Amherst and Northampton are welcoming communities.”
Established in 1985, The Stonewall Center was the third of its kind on a college campus. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the center is holding a major series of public panels and events this fall. The series looks at LGBT law, athletics, literature, bisexual and transgender rights, AIDS, local history, religion, music, and politics. Highlights include evenings with Cleve Jones, developer of the AIDS Memorial Quilt; Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls; singer-songwriter Zoë Lewis; and writer Cherríe Moraga.
UMass Amherst is working to further improve the climate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students. One year ago, the campus added protection of “gender identity or expression” to its nondiscrimination policy. Beginning this fall, students transitioning genders can be covered by University Health Services for related expenses.
“Do we have incidents of intolerance?” asks Beemyn, “Absolutely, it can happen anywhere.” However, through ongoing advocacy and education, UMass Amherst strives to roll out a welcoming rainbow carpet to all.
2. University at Buffalo NewsCenter, September 27, 2010
University Communications, 330 Crofts Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260-7015
Jonathan Katz, Noted Art Historian And Scholar of Queer Studies, Joins UB Faculty
Contact: Patricia Donovan, email@example.com, 716-645-4602
BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Sept. 9 issue of the New York Times included an article about an important new art exhibition scheduled to open Oct. 30 in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution: "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture."
It is the first major museum exhibition to focus on sexual difference in the making of modern American portraiture and marks a major distinction in the career of art historian Jonathan D. Katz, PhD, a new associate professor in the University at Buffalo Visual Arts Department where he will direct the new doctoral program.
Katz and National Portrait Gallery historian David C. Ward co-curated the exhibition, which will consider the role of sexual difference in depicting modern America, how artists explored the fluidity of sexuality and gender, how major themes in modern art — especially abstraction — were influenced by social marginalization, and how art reflected society's evolving and changing attitudes toward sexuality, desire, and romantic attachment.
Ward and Katz co-authored the exhibition's 304-page catalog, also titled "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture," which is scheduled to be published within the next few weeks.
Katz is a pioneering academic, prodigious scholar and gay activist who has made scholarly contributions to queer studies the focus of his professional career. His accomplishments are frequently accompanied by such terms as "new" and "first."
In the 1990s, for instance, he was the first full-time American academic to be tenured in the field of gay and lesbian studies. He founded and chaired both the Harvey Milk Institute, the largest queer studies institute in the world, and the Queer Caucus for Art of the College Art Association. He also co-founded Queer Nation San Francisco, and was the first artistic director of the National Queer Arts Festival in San Francisco.
This is a banner year for Katz. In addition to his Smithsonian exhibition, he has another major exhibition under development, a new book coming out, and, with two British colleagues, is a co-investigator on a $770,000 project examining sexuality in the surrealist movement.
And, of course, the UB doctoral program in visual studies and its emphasis are new, if not for Katz, then for the university, which is precisely why he is here.
"I am very excited at the prospect of directing a graduate program in visual studies that will take into consideration -- for the first time -- issues of gender and sexuality," he says.
"Art history has been slow to embrace 20 years of scholarship in this field," he says, "but because of plans already in place, UB is poised to become a world leader in this area of study."
He points out that others in his department, including Assistant Professors Elizabeth Otto and Lori Johnson are working in this sphere, which permits the department to advertise the program as having a strong investment in issues of gender and sex.
Although it has barely begun, Katz says he wants to see the doctoral program expanded, and is investigating possible sources of private funding. The department shortly will be in the position, he says, to announce relationships with overseas institutions currently vested in gender and sexuality research.
Katz's central scholarly concern is why the American avant-garde in the Cold War era came to be dominated and defined by queer artists who remained silent about their sexuality in what was perhaps the single most homophobic decade in this nation's history.
His research and writing has focused on composer John Cage and painters Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, although he also has written about poet Frank O'Hara, French theorist and radical feminist Monique Wittig, artists Agnes Martin, David Hockney, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and others.
Katz gave his first lecture here Sept. 13 and on Oct. 6 will present a talk in the UB Humanities Institute's New Faculty Series titled "The Sexuality of Abstraction: Agnes Martin." It will begin at 3:30 p.m. in 830 Clemens Hall and is free and open to the public.
He also is co-principal investigator on a three-year, $770,000 UK Arts and Humanities Research Council grant to fund a study titled "Same Sex Desire in Surrealism." His co-investigators are art historians David Lomas of the University of Manchester (UK) and Dawn Ades, OBE, FBA, of the University of Essex (UK), both of whom specialize in surrealist studies.
His publications also include many essays, journal articles and book chapters and two books-in-progress, to be published by the University of Chicago Press: "The Silent Camp: Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and the Cold War" and "Art, Eros and the Sixties."
Katz curated several exhibitions at Yale and at SUNY Stony Brook and now, with Rock Hushka of the Tacoma Art Museum, is co-curating "AIDS/Art/America," a major 2013-14 international touring exhibition funded in part by a Warhol Foundation grant.
He also is writing the exhibition's full-scale catalog, which Katz calls, "the first large scale presentation of art from the plague years; the first examination of the ways AIDS shifted post-modernist premises in the art world once the 'death of the author' became sadly, repeatedly, literalized."
Before coming to UB, Katz was a Terra Foundation Senior Fellow at London's Courtauld Institute and an honorary research fellow at the University of Manchester, a post he has held since 2008. He was a visiting associate professor at Smith College (2007) and associate professor of art history at Yale University (2002-06) where he also was founding director of the Lesbian and Gay Studies Program and coordinated the Larry Kramer Initiative for Lesbian and Gay Studies that preceded it.
Katz serves on the Board of Directors and is curator of the Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation, which is building America's first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Museum in New York City.
He has taught at SUNY Stony Brook, the University of Amsterdam and, from 1991 to 1999, was a member of the City College of San Francisco's Department of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Studies, which he also chaired and where he became country's first full-time tenured faculty member in that field.
Katz is a graduate of George Washington University with a BA in philosophy and literature. He holds an MA in the humanities from the University of Chicago, and a PhD in art history from Northwestern University.
He has been a fellow of the Clark Institute and Williams College, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the Social Science Research Council, the Smithsonian Institution and the Kress Foundation; he also was the recipient of a 2009-10 Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation Book Grant for $50,000.
His activism is extensively discussed in Phyllis Burke's "Family Values," (1993) Frank Browning's "The Culture of Desire: Paradox and Perversity in Gay Lives Today," (1993) and in Chieko Kuriki's "The Gay Rights Movement in America" (1997) as well as in numerous periodicals and newspapers.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.
3. The Daily Pennsylvanian (UPenn), September 28, 2010
4015 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104
LGBT interest on the rise
By Anjali Tsui
It’s great to be gay at Penn, according to Newsweek, the publication that recently ranked Penn as the most gay-friendly college in the United States.
This year, Penn has seen a record number of active lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. Approximately 75 students signed up to join the Lambda Alliance and over 150 people attended the Queer Student Alliance’s welcome-back event, “The Gay Affair,” LGBT Center Director Bob Schoenberg said.
He said the Newsweek ranking is a reflection of the fact that “all the stars have aligned at Penn this year.”
More freshmen and upperclassmen are also coming out at the beginning of the school year than ever before, according to Chairman of the Lambda Alliance and Wharton and Engineering junior Tyler Ernst.
Although the exact number is difficult to quantify because not all openly LGBT members participate in LGBT activities, College junior Victor Galli estimates four to five times the number of people who have come out at the start of previous years have come out at the start of the semester.
“It’s a sign that Penn is explicitly gay-friendly,” said Ernst, who attributes this trend to a “very proactive” team of upperclassmen who fostered an environment where “it is cool not just to come out, but to be active in the LGBT community.”
This is true for many students. A College freshman from South Carolina, who wished to remain anonymous because he is not openly gay at home, said he was “counting the days” until he could come out at Penn.
“It’s a very, very liberating experience, especially when you come from a community that is not accepting,” he said. “I came out to my roommate on the first night, and it was totally chill.”
He added that he experienced a “cultural shock” when he discovered that “a gay party at Penn can rival a frat party in size.”
According to College freshman Robert Franco, the LGBT community at Penn is “extremely welcoming and open to everyone.” This contrasts starkly with other schools where the scene is “underground,” he said.
“There are already really deep friendships within the freshmen gay community,” he added.
Wharton freshman Derek Livermont, who is from Montana, said “the whole mentality about [being LGBT] is completely different” at Penn because “sexuality is just another part of a person.”
“A lot of gay students take for granted how progressive Penn is,” he added, emphasizing the need to “give back” to the larger community.
In addition to the influx of freshmen, active members of the LGBT community have seen more upperclassmen coming out this year. Galli speculated that these juniors and seniors are “more comfortable because they feel like they have a large support network.”
A College junior, who wished to remain anonymous because he has not come out to his family, said he joined Lambda this year because he finally became comfortable with his sexual orientation and is interested in meeting more people.
He said he was impressed by the diverse mix of individuals, many of whom “break stereotypes” of being LGBT.
“Gay people are often portrayed as being effeminate, but you see people who act more masculinely doing sports,” he said. “It’s similar to the diversity that you would find anywhere at Penn.”
4. CNN AC360 Blog, September 28, 2010
CNN Center, 190 Marietta St NW, Atlanta, GA
Assistant Michigan AG targets openly gay college student
By Martina Stewart
Editor's Note: Watch Anderson's interview with Andrew Shirvell
Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox wants to make something crystal clear: no one should mistake the opinions of Andrew Shirvell, an assistant attorney general in Cox’s office, for being those of the Michigan Attorney General’s office itself.
For nearly six months, Shirvell has used his blog “Chris Armstrong Watch,” to shine an online spotlight on college student Chris Armstrong, the openly gay president of the student governmental body at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Using the online moniker “Concerned Michigan Alumnus,” Shirvell launched his blog in late April.
“Welcome to ‘Chris Armstrong Watch,’” Shirvell wrote in his inaugural blog post. “This is a site for concerned University of Michigan alumni, students, and others who oppose the recent election of Chris Armstrong – a RADICAL HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVIST, RACIST, ELITIST, & LIAR – as the new head of student government.”
Among other things, Shirvell has published blog posts that accuse Armstrong of going back on a campaign promise he made to minority students; engaging in “flagrant sexual promiscuity” with another male member of the student government; sexually seducing and influencing “a previously conservative [male] student” so much so that the student, according to Shirvell, “morphed into a proponent of the radical homosexual agenda;” hosting a gay orgy in his dorm room in October 2009; and trying to recruit incoming first year students “to join the homosexual ‘lifestyle.’”
In a statement provided to CNN Tuesday evening, Michigan’s top lawyer sought to put some daylight between his office and Shirvell's online behavior.
“Mr. Shirvell's personal opinions are his and his alone and do not reflect the views of the Michigan Department of Attorney General,” Cox said in the written statement provided by his office. “But his immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear."
Contacted recently by CNN, Armstrong declined to comment on the record about Shirvell’s actions and would only say that he did not want to dignify Shirvell’s comments with a response and that he was pursuing legal action against Shirvell.
In previous interviews, Shirvell has made no apologies for his blog postings.
“Did he think he was just going to get some kind of free pass just because he’s gay or whatever?,” Shirvell said earlier this month with Detroit TV station WXYZ. “I mean, we’re all adults here and so, you know, we’re treating him like an adult with adult level criticism.”
Shirvell also told the local news station that his online postings were justified not because Armstrong is openly gay but because Armstrong is “somebody that’s there to promote special rights for homosexuals at the cost of, you know, heterosexual students.”
5. New University (UC-Irvine), September 26, 2010
3100 Gateway Commons, Irvine, CA 92697-4250
UCI’S LGBTQ Activists Speak Out
By Connie Ho
Imagine this: you’ve just been kicked out of your home and have been cut off financially from your family. In the blink of an eye, you’re left to battle homelessness and depression. You feel beaten down, both physically and emotionally.
Many students have been lucky enough to not have to suffer this fate, but for the unlucky few who have, it’s simply unbearable. Cameron Koichi Joe, a third-year business economics major, witnessed this very situation happen to a previous boyfriend who came out to his family.
As a result of his boyfriend’s experience, Cameron was encouraged to become an activist in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Ally (LGBTQQIA) community. Cameron’s own identity came out during his junior year of high school, when he revealed his sexuality to his close friends and family. Cameron identifies himself as queer, but dislikes labels for the LGBTQQIA community.
“Queer affords me an identity that is in constant flux in terms of my sexual and gender identity,” he explained. “Since I am a drag performer, some ask if I identify as transgender, which I do sometimes, especially in the mindset of a performance. Some ask if I’m just a man putting on women’s clothing for fun. I would say that all of these and none of these are true Ń sometimes labeling a feeling or trying to categorize all of your actions and expressions is dangerous in that it sticks you in a tight box that you cannot move from.”
This past academic year, Cameron served as the graphics and technology intern at the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center (LGBTRC) on campus where he was responsible for coordinating and advertising events.
In particular, he organized and performed in the UCI Drag Show, which focused on transgender violence and gender expression, as well as the Queer Culture Festival, which celebrates queer and performance art. Cameron also participated in the Speakers Bureau, a program that shares coming out stories in a more personable environment.
Currently, Cameron works on promoting LGBTQQIA education through individual projects such as a queer magazine that documents queer histories and perspectives as well as a blog that details how queers can go about combating oppression and homophobia.
“My activism for the community comes in the form of education and conversations with people, doing outreach and enlightening people on gender and sexual freedom that need to be embraced in order to eliminate homophobia,” Cameron said.
Through his experiences, Cameron has learned to be more comfortable in his own skin; he has not only changed his outlook on his life, but has also reconsidered future careers.
“As an activist, I was exposed to a bunch of academic circles that expanded my mind, helping me deconstruct the psychology of homophobia and better battle it,” he said. “I’ve learned how to outreach to queer people at risk for violence, depression and abuse.”
His activism has inspired other students as well. Neil Bautista, a second-year English and Spanish double major, was encouraged to take a role in the LGBTQQIA community through his interactions with Cameron.
Bautista, who identifies as gay, attended the UCSA (University of California Student Association) Congress in August, and sat in on a Queer Caucus where members of the LGBTQQIA community discussed how to create a more nascent space for students on UC campuses.
Neil believes that accommodation of the LGBTQQIA community is important because there is still discrimination, marginalization and displacement of such students.
“I think that mobilizing the students on campus is difficult. Many are not interested or simply do not have the time to hear out what activists have to say,” Neil said.
“There is a hustle and bustle about being on Ring Road that effectively does not permit for listening to groups for more than a minute or two.
I also believe that LGBTQ issues are a gray area for many Ń their moral compasses go haywire to the issues. The fundamental aspect for anyone considering participating in LGBTQ activism is this – the fight for equality.”
Both Cameron and Neil encourage students who want to explore their identity to utilize available resources at the LGBTRC. The center is implementing new resources, such as an online chat service, that will anonymously help students who may not be ready to interact in person with queer resources and activists.
Students may also find a supportive community in groups such as T-Time, the first transgender support group at UCI; Transgender Activist Group to Educate and Motivate (TAG TEAM), which focuses on gender justice outreach; and Delta Lambda Pi, UCI’s first openly LGBT fraternity.
“Learning about yourself is the most important thing you can do,” Neil said. “The important thing is to let yourself be open. Pursue what makes you happy, whatever that may be. You are a reflection of all your experiences – there are no right or wrong ones.”
6. The Miscellany News (Vassar College), September 29, 2010
Vassar College Box 149, 124 Raymond Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY 12604
Shifts in approach to LGBTQ recruiting
By Jillian Scharr
"Campus Climate Index", a website that rates colleges' LGBTQ campus life, gave Vassar 4.5 stars out of five in 2007. In specific categories, Vassar received five out of five stars for "LGBT student life" and "LGBT counseling and health." The worst score, a 2.5 out of five, was for "LGBTQ recruitment and retention efforts." This score may seem shocking due to Vassar's healthy population of LGBTQ identifying students, but it may reflect the shifting recruitment priorities of the College.
A college's image, however, is much subtler than a rating, more complex than a number. "There's no way to dissect how somebody develops a sense of place, but it's some combination of the conversations you have with other people and what you're learning from the College itself," said Director of Media Relations and Public Affairs Jeff Kosmacher. "I would say it's got to be evenly split, if not more reliant on what you're hearing from other people, because any institution can say all sorts of great things about itself."
So where does Vassar's LGBTQ-friendly image fit into this balance? Is it a reputation that the College seeks to actively promote, or is it dependent on word-of-mouth and student activism? What's more, is Vassar's LGBTQ image changing?
In recent years some have ventured the opinion that Vassar is trying to distance itself from its reputation as an LGBTQ haven. Associate Professor of History and Director of Women's Studies Lydia Murdoch '92 said that students have come up to her expressing concern over things like the fact that Gays of Our Lives was not part of New Student Orientation this year-the reason for this was a scheduling error; it will probably return to the orientation schedule next year-or rumors that the All Campus Dining Center's (ACDC) name was going to be changed due to an unfortunate slang term that could render the acronym ACDC irrevocably offensive, which after a correspondence with Maureen King proved to indeed be rumors and nothing more.
"Little things like ACDC or Gays of Our Lives…get misinterpreted," said Murdoch. "But I think the reason they might be misinterpreted is because there is a shift in the overall crafting of Vassar's image."
And what exactly is "Vassar's image?" "We present the College as an inclusive place, where a student can feel free, as it states on the admissions website, to ‘Be Yourself,'" wrote Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid David Borus in an e-mailed statement. "I would guess that for some applicants, that applies to their sexual orientation, while for others it may be attractive because they are free here to express their academic, personal or artistic interests."
It seems, then, that the College is increasingly focused on creating a broad atmosphere of inclusiveness rather than focusing on particular groups.
"If, as the Princeton Review says, Vassar is seen as a LGBTQ-friendly school, that is certainly OK with us, as we hope that the College is seen as a welcoming and friendly place for all students, whatever their personal backgrounds, characteristics, preferences or orientation might be," wrote Borus.
That's not enough for some, however. Vassar alumna and current coordinator of State University of New York Oneonta's Gender and Sexuality Resource Center Robin Neussbaum '99 argues that LGBT-specific programs are necessary to cultivate a broad sense of inclusion. "I do think a good administration supports a broad spectrum of diversity…[but] it would serve them well to be actively working to create a campus that's LGBT friendly."
Vassar's Blegen House was one example of LGBTQ-specific programming whose absence Neussbaum laments. "On the one hand, getting a central location is a good thing, but…we had a space that was ours, that we could cook dinners in and have barbecues and have a TV and rooms…the loss of that was really disappointing."
"When they did create [the position of assistant director for LGBTQ programs] that showed a commitment and a step in the right direction," said Neussbaum, "but I think it backslid again after [former Assistant Director Julie Silverstein] left."
Silverstein, Neussbaum explained, had earned a masters' degree before accepting the position. "They haven't chosen to fill it with someone at the same level as they originally had," said Neussbaum referring to the new director for LGBTQ, Assistant Director of Campus Life Steve Lavoie '08. Furthermore, Silverstein's position was full-time, while LaVoie's is 30 hours a week and only during the academic year, a change which Neussbaum sees as a step backwards. And while these changes may be a reflection of the current economic climate, Neussbaum reflected that now more than ever does the College's spending directly refer to the priorities of the college.
Associate Dean of Campus Life and Diversity Ed Pittman, however, disagreed that Lavoie lacked experience for the position. "In the last year, the Campus Life LGBTQ Center has been key to shaping discourse on campus with respect to LGBTQ communities. John Schoonbeck, our previous staff member, helped to position the center from its inception in 1994. Steve Lavoie '08, the current Assistant Director for Campus Life, continues that strong tradition. He has brought a tremendous amount of intellectual engagement and community awareness to the larger campus through programs and advocacy," wrote Pittman in an e-mailed statement. "My sense is that Vassar students appreciate this approach and welcome a critically engaging perspective that also affirms community. With the support of the college, this was the Campus Life Office's intention for the Assistant Director of Campus Life positions with the LGBTQ and ALANA centers."
"It is my hope that we can one day return to a full-time position in the LGBTQ Center," he continued.
In regards to the admissions process and the notion of the propagation of the image of Vassar as an LGBTQ friendly institution, Kosmacher pointed out that individual experiences play a significant role in a college's image or a student's perception thereof. "Vassar does not specifically cultivate a reputation for any particular group of prospective students," he said. "If anything, this sense of being a gay-friendly college is word-of-mouth, and I think word-of-mouth is as significant a factor in what people know about Vassar as what [the College] does to try to put Vassar's message forward."
"I think these ‘reputation things' are very intangible," he concluded, "and I think they are driven by experience, by conversations that happen amongst all sorts of people."
Still, some schools do actively recruit students from particular social groups. The University of Pennsylvania, for example, has recently begun a program of putting students whose application essays identify them as gay in touch with current gay students and campus organizations. Applicants to the University of Southern California can stay overnight in a residence hall's gay floor and visit their host's classes and student organizations in a program called "Rainbow Floor Overnight Experience."
Of course, recruitment of this nature poses its own set of problems. "A lot of [prospective students] aren't out to their parents," Dartmouth's Senior Assistant Director of Admissions S. Caroline Kerr told The New York Times in an article about college recruitment of LGBTQ students this April.
Last fall, Vassar participated in the LGBTQ college fair in New York City sponsored by Campus Pride, a LGBTQ rights organization, and will attend two similar fairs this fall, Borus confirmed. "Otherwise, we do not have any recruiting efforts aimed primarily at LGBTQ students."
In the end, of course, most agree that a school's educational offerings are more important than precisely how gay-friendly it is. "When I applied to Vassar I didn't even know about that image of it being really gay," said ACT OUT President Katie Atkins '11. "Maybe if I had known that I would have wanted to go here even more…but that didn't even play into why I applied to Vassar."
"Students have told me that LGBTQ culture at Vassar is not mentioned on the admissions tour, nor is the LGBTQ Center, but I do know that some of the student tour guides make it a point to mention it," said LaVoie. "Nevertheless we do have a large LGBTQ student population, so the message is out there in some way. Yes, I think that the students are promoting the school as a LGBTQ friendly space-I did certainly as a student, and I do now as an alum."
In that sense, Vassar's LGBTQ-friendly image seems self-propagating more than actively promoted. But what's the appropriate balance between student advocacy and administrative support? "There's a great book called Wolf Girls at Vassar…that looks at students talking about their experiences as lesbian students and gay students at Vassar," said Murdoch. "I think President Fran Ferguson had a conference recognizing the book and the author. That's an example of promoting and celebrating a history that I think is really important."
"For the Sesquicentennial it would be wonderful to recognize that," she continued. "it's a book that's taught at Vassar, that students love, it's written by alumns-this should be promoted and put on a Vassar admissions page [to show] what people have done and what the community is about."
In the end, it comes down to the philosophical question of how to cultivate an atmosphere of diversity and tolerance. Should the administration approach the issue from the top down, emphasizing a broad and balanced sense of inclusion?
Or should the College work from the bottom up, emphasizing the separate social-based organizations, in the hope that strong individual organizations will form a united tolerant atmosphere?
The question is not an easy one. But in any case, Vassar's LGBTQ-friendly reputation won't be disappearing any time soon.
"I also have heard of the idea of Vassar trying to change their image from a LGBT-oriented campus, but, I mean, it can easily be countered by the LGBTQ organizations," said co-President of QCVC Brandon Greene '13. Greene continues, "There might be additional effort from orgs to ‘gay up Vassar'…but until [an image-shift] is blatantly apparent, you can't make any assumptions."
7. The Providence Journal, September 29, 2010
75 Fountain St., Providence, RI 02902
Student protest at URI library scores one of its objectives
By Donita Naylor
SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. -- A sit-in at the library's 24-hour room at the University of Rhode Island has achieved one of its seven objectives, a student leader said Wednesday.
Brian Stack, president of the Gay Straight Alliance at URI and the protest's spokesman, said university officials have agreed to reinstate two diversity leaders to reporting directly to Thomas R. Dougan, the university's vice president for student affairs.
Andrew Winters, the URI staff person assigned to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Center, and Melvin Wade, director of the URI Multicultural Center, will again report directly to Dougan, Stack said. Last week Donald DeHayes, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the two had been reassigned to another administrator to lighten Dougan's workload.
Dougan said Wednesday that the university is in the process of hiring an associate vice president/chief diversity officer who would report directly to University President David M. Dooley. Dougan also confirmed that the protesters met Monday and will meet again on Thursday with Dooley, Dougan and DeHayes to discuss the other objectives.
Stack said the protest will continue through the Thursday meeting. As of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, Stack said, the sit-in will have lasted a week. He said a core group of about four students are keeping the vigil by taking shifts.
Dining Services and student groups have sent them pizza, he said, and supporters have brought them chips, cookies, soda, cereal, muffins and bagels.
8. Star Tribune, September 29, 2010
425 Portland Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55488
Augsburg shows the colors of tolerance
By Jenna Ross
Augsburg College's school colors are maroon and gray, but you wouldn't know it Wednesday. The whole crowd wore yellow.
A student-led, grass-roots campaign to decry an alleged attack and hurtful graffiti against GLBT students encouraged people at the Minneapolis college to wear the colors of rainbow this week. Red on Monday, orange on Tuesday, yellow on Wednesday.
The yellow-clad crowd converged on campus Wednesday evening as more than 150 people gathered to "Rally 4 Respect."
Early Sunday morning, two men made anti-gay comments to a 19-year-old Augsburg student, then hit him and a friend, according to a campus crime alert. The attack followed "several incidents of derogatory images and statements" etched on walls and drawn on whiteboards in residence halls, said the college's president, Paul Pribbenow, in a campus-wide e-mail.
"I know that all of us are dismayed by these disrespectful acts," he wrote. "They do not reflect the sort of community we all value at Augsburg."
Taylor Foster counts the gay student who was allegedly attacked as her "dear friend."
Foster, an openly gay junior, was shocked that such a thing could happen at Augsburg, where "we almost have more gay kids than we do straight," she joked. Then she turned serious. "This is my home. It's not OK."
So she started a Facebook page, asking students to reflect the rainbow symbol that represents the Gay Pride movement in their clothes this week.
Still facing harassment
The incidents come just as a new nationwide survey shows that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students and staff face relatively high rates of harassment on college and university campuses.
They were twice as likely to be targets of derogatory remarks than their straight counterparts, according to the 2010 State of Higher Education for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People, released this month.
About 13 percent of GLBT respondents said they feared for their physical safety.
Graffiti targeting minorities, including gay people, "is unfortunately all too common," said Jim Hoppe, Macalester College's dean of students.
Just this week, someone scrawled homophobic graffiti on a whiteboard in a dorm at the St. Paul college, he said.
Macalester -- often ranked among the most "gay-friendly" campuses in the nation -- alerted students and staff to the incident in a daily newsletter.
"We try to bring it to folks' attention," Hoppe said, "so that people don't become just numb to it."
Hoppe said he was encouraged by the Augsburg students' response to the incidents there. "It's fantastic."
Augsburg had planned smaller discussions around the graffiti, said Ann Garvey, Augsburg's vice president of student affairs.
After the alleged attack, the school's efforts melded with the students', converging with Wednesday's rally, during which Pribbenow spoke.
The students, professors and staff members wore yellow hats, shirts and, in one case, a banana costume. They prayed and laughed and clapped.
Foster looked at the crowd that her Facebook page had helped create. She shook her head.
She had expected her friends would participate, she said, to show their mutual friend that he wasn't alone. Instead, she ate Wednesday in a lunchroom that was half yellow. The sight made her cry.
"It has gone above and beyond what I thought it would," she said.
9. The Star-Ledger, September 29, 2010
1 Star Ledger Plaza, Newark, NJ 07102
Rutgers freshman is presumed dead in suicide after roommate broadcast gay sexual encounter online
By Kelly Heyboer
A Rutgers University freshman appears to have killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate broadcast live images of the 18-year-old having a sexual encounter with another man on the internet, according to campus and law enforcement sources.
Tyler Clementi, 18, of Ridgewood, is presumed dead after his car, cell phone and computer were found near the George Washington Bridge last week, law enforcement sources said. His wallet was found on the walkway adjacent to the New York-bound lanes. In a statement released this afternoon, Clementi’s family confirmed the suicide and said his body has not been found.
Dharun Ravi, 18, of Plainsboro, and Molly Wei, 18, of Princeton, were charged with two counts each of invasion of privacy for setting up a camera in a dorm room on Sept. 19 and using it to view and transmit a live sex scene, said Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan.
Paul Mainardi of Woodbury, the Clementi family's attorney, said Ravi and Clementi were roommates at Rutgers.
Ravi's Twitter feed on that date referred to seeing his roommate have sex with another man in their room on the Piscataway campus, classmates said.
"Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay," Ravi said on his Twitter page in a Sept. 19 entry posted at 6:17 p.m.
Two days later, Ravi posted another entry directing his nearly 150 Twitter followers to iChat, an internet messaging service with a live video feed.
"Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes it's happening again," Ravi wrote in the Sept. 21 post.
Ravi's Twitter feed has since been taken down. But the entries survived in a cached version of the page still available through Google's search engine this afternoon.
Prosecutors said Ravi and Wei set up a camera on Sept. 19 and broadcast live images of Clementi having a "sexual encounter." Ravi is also accused of trying unsuccessfully to broadcast a second sex scene Sept. 21.
The Clementi family released a statement this afternoon. "Tyler was a fine young man, and a distinguished musician. The family is heartbroken beyond words. They respectfully request that they be given time to grieve their great loss and that their privacy at this painful time be respected by all," it said.
"The family and their representatives are cooperating fully with the ongoing criminal investigations of two Rutgers University students," the statement said.
Clementi was an accomplished violinist who had received a college scholarship from the Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra for his musicianship and leadership.
The violinist left a lasting impression with some in the Bergen County town, said Hiro Kagei, 17, who played in the orchestra with the teenager. A solo Clementi played in a concert last year "blew the audience away," he said.
"Now that he’ dead, it’s sad to think we won’t hear something like that anymore," Kagei said.
On the Rutgers campus, classmates described Clementi as quiet. At a mandatory dorm meeting called the day he was reported missing, only three students said they had spoken to Clementi since they moved into the dorm last month, according to students who were at the meeting.
Ravi and Wei — who were classmates at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North before enrolling at Rutgers this fall — did not respond to e-mail requests to comment Tuesday. Steve Altman, Ravi’s attorney, also declined to comment.
Ravi surrendered to Rutgers police Tuesday and was released on $25,000 bail, the prosecutor’s office said. Wei surrendered to the campus police Monday and was released on her own recognizance.
Under New Jersey’s invasion-of-privacy laws, it is a fourth degree crime to collect or view images depicting nudity or sexual contact involving another individual without that person’s consent, the prosecutor said. It is a third degree crime to transmit or distribute the images.
If the students are convicted on a third degree offense they could face up to five years in prison each under state law. Conviction on a fourth-degree crime could lead to probation or up to 18 months in prison.
10. The Providence Journal, October 1, 2010
75 Fountain St., Providence, RI 02902
URI student faces charges
By Donita Naylor
An anti-gay threat written on a dry-erase board on the door of a University of Rhode Island dorm room has resulted in the arrest of a freshman from Massachusetts, URI officials said Thursday.
Christopher Hagen, 19, of Scotland Road in Reading, Mass., was charged with misdemeanor vandalism and disorderly conduct after university police were called to Barlow Hall at 1:44 a.m. Sept. 24 on a report that someone had tagged several doors with offensive remarks, URI spokesman Dave Lavallee said.
One student reported feeling threatened, Lavallee said.
The message, Lavallee said, was accompanied by a drawing of a male anatomical part and said: “You are gay, get out of Barlow before you regret it.”
The investigation led to a resident who admitted to writing on the door, Lavallee said. Hagen was held overnight by university police and released on his own recognizance, promising to pay $1,000 if he doesn’t appear in District Court, South Kingstown, to answer the charges. He is scheduled to appear Oct. 6, Lavallee said.
He has also been referred to URI’s judicial process.
11. QSaltLake, September 30, 2010
1055 East 2100 South, Ste 206, Salt Lake City UT 84106
U of U Shades of Queer
By JoSelle Vanderhooft
The University of Utah will celebrate its gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer students, faculty and staff, allies, and Utah’s queer community at large during its annual Pride Week, Oct. 18–22.
The theme of this year’s celebration is “Shades of Queer: Connecting Through Difference,” and the diversity among LGBT people will be reflected throughout the week’s events, said Cathy Martinez, director of the school’s LGBT Resource Center, which sponsors event.
For example, she said, the school will screen three very different films about LGBT as well as members of other minority populations. The 2008 documentary Bi the Way follows five young adults from different U.S. cities in an exploration of the country’s changing definitions of sexuality, which include the rise of bisexuality as a more commonly embraced identity among young Americans. Papers: Stories of Undocumented Youth explores the lives and hardships children without U.S. citizenship face as they come of legal age in the country where they have always lived, but in which they are illegal residents. Trinidad documents the life of Marci Bowers, a transgender gender reassignment surgeon who works in Trinidad, Colo. — a city that has been dubbed the “sex change capital of the world.”
A number of guest speakers will also visit the school to lead workshops and address the student body and the public at large. On Oct. 21, queer theorist and author Judith Jack Halberstam will provide Pride Week’s keynote lecture. Other guests include spoken word artist Andrea Gibson and 8: The Mormon Proposition director Reed Cowan, who will speak at the week’s Gay-la dinner and host what Martinez calls an “old-fashioned assembly” for U of U students and the general public.
“We call it an old-fashioned assembly, but it’s really a presentation, question and answer period, and lecture by Reed Cowan,” she said. ‘I just took the whole concept of an assembly from junior high and high school and we called it that.”
Events just for university students include Halberstam’s lecture and a breakfast with Cowan, Halberstam and local poet Ely Shipley. Shipley will also be the featured artist for the weeks “Shades of Queer” monologue night. The evening will feature a performance by the Lambda Literary Award nominee, as well as spoken word, poetry, film and art presentations by members of the local queer community. The performances, said Martinez, will all focus on how each participant’s experience of being queer is also affected by other aspects of their life, such as their race, education level, religion and ability level. The week will also include a panel discussion on the artwork of Trevor Southey, who was featured in QSaltLake earlier this month.
As ever, U of U Pride Week will also feature the “Ask a Queer” booth, where LGBT students and community members will be on-hand to answer any questions about sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as the resource center’s Safe Zone Training, for individuals and organizations seeking to make their places of work more queer-friendly.
Finally, representatives from a number of gay and transgender-friendly organizations will gather Oct. 18 to present the panel discussion “Know Your Rights and How to Use Them” on several topics pertaining to gay and transgender rights in Utah.
Martinez said she is hopeful that the community at large will come to the campus for the week’s events.
“Pride Week at the university is about sharing the community with the entire campus as well as the community at large,” she said. “It’s our way of saying this is the richness of our community and what we’re about. We’re not just one size fits all, we come in all sorts of identities and gender and queerness. That’s the reason the committee came up with the name ‘Shades of Queer: Connecting through Difference.’ There are different shades to the community and we really come together in that place of difference.”
Proceeds from the Gay-la dinner go back to the LGBT Resource Center to support its programming, which includes providing scholarships for LGBT students to attend conferences and training workshops. The week is sponsored by the school’s Associated Students of the University of Utah Presenter’s Office, Plan-B Theatre Company, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, the University Guest House, University Student Affairs, University Office of Equality and Diversity, Twigs & Co., Jim Dabakis, QSaltLake and others.
For full schedule visit sa.utah.edu/lgbt.
12. The Daily Cougar (University of Houston), September 30, 2010
University of Houston, Room 7, UC Satellite, Houston, TX 77204-4015
SGA passes resolution for transgender students at midweek meeting
By Ashley Anderson
The Student Government Association approved three new resolutions at Wednesday’s meeting in the University Center Cougar Den.
One of the unanimously approved resolutions was for giving transgender students the ability to use their preferred names on ID badges and class rosters.
It is intended to prevent the victimization of faculty, staff or students who must use their legal names.
“This is a really, really big deal for transgender students, faculty and staff, and it’s another way the SGA is showing commitment to the safety of all UH Coogs,” student teacher Stacey Lawrence Colton Meier said.
Meier, who is a transgender fourth year doctoral candidate, explained how the passing of the resolution would affect their lives in many ways.
“Being transgender is hard enough, so the resolution makes the life of transgender people at UH just a little bit easier,” Meier said.
The second resolution approved was for the support of the Instant CLASSic, a fair that will benefit the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
“We support CLASSic and you should come out,” CLASS Senator Number 3 Alicia Velez said.
This will be the first event that gives attention to the college’s departments and organizations. It will be held on Oct. 7.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Velez said. “It has such diversity that it needs a fair so students can see what the CLASS is all about.”
SGA passed the last resolution to sympathize with Cougar football quarterbacks Case Keenum and Cotton Turner. They expressed their gratitude on behalf of the UH student body for their sportsmanship and wished them a safe and quick recovery.
13. The Michigan Daily, September 28, 2010
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
MSA President Chris Armstrong responds publicly to criticism
By Robin Veeck
Michigan Student Assembly President Chris Armstrong publicly responded to verbal and cyber attacks levied against him for the first time at last night’s MSA meeting.
“I will not back down. I will not flinch. I will not falter. I will not succumb to any unwarranted attacks. What I will do is I will carry on with the utmost pride and vindication,” Armstrong read aloud to the assembly from a written statement. “I, along with the rest of this assembly, were elected to this body to represent the University. And nothing said about us, or regarding our personal merits, will waive our commitment to serve the student body.”
Though Armstrong opted not to specifically address any personal attacks, he has recently been the target of a blog called Chris Armstrong Watch. The blog, created by Andrew Shirvell, an assistant attorney general for the state of Michigan, has accused Armstrong of advocating a “radical homosexual agenda.” Shirvell has posted on his blog regularly since April to criticize Armstrong, his friends, family members and other members of MSA.
In addition, Shirvell has shown up at events on campus criticizing Armstrong, including the first MSA meeting of the semester.
Armstrong said in an interview after last night's meeting that he wanted to speak to the assembly to confirm his resolution to disregard these types of criticisms levied against him.
“I think it was important for me to say what I said to the assembly this evening, because I think it’s important for them to figure what my mental state is and what I’m going forward with,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong had declined to publicly comment on the criticism he has received from Shirvell before last night.
MSA Vice President Jason Raymond also voiced his support for Armstrong in a statement to the assembly last night.
“Over the past six months, obviously, members of this assembly have been under attack by an individual who was here at our first meeting, Chris in particular, and I’d just like to thank him and to thank you for holding your heads high and maintaining the integrity of this body,” Raymond said.
At the assembly’s first meeting of the fall 2010 semester, Shirvell made a public comment to the Assembly, calling for Armstrong’s resignation due to his involvement in Order of Angell, a senior honor society. The society has been criticized for using Native American artifacts in its meetings and rituals in the past. In 2007, the group — formerly known as Michiguama — changed its name and began publishing a list of its members to the public in an effort to be more transparent.
“No MSA president and no assembly in history has had to deal with the kind of criticism we’ve had to deal with over the past six months,” Raymond said.
Armstrong told the assembly that criticisms would not stop him from continuing to work to improve campus life.
“I will continue to fight like hell for the students of this university and to better this campus,” Armstrong told the assembly. “I believe in this assembly, and I believe in this government.”
14. The Michigan Daily, September 30, 2010
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
AG's office: Shirvell took leave of office on own accord, will be subject to disciplinary hearing upon return
By Rachel Brusstar
Andrew Shirvell, an assistant attorney general for the state of Michigan, is taking a leave of absence the attorney general's office said Friday. The move capped what had become a national news story after The Michigan Daily first reported in early September on Shirvell’s controversial blog that targeted Michigan Student Assembly President Chris Armstrong.
Shirvell announced his leave Thursday, but didn't say when he would return, according to Cox spokesman John Sellek.
Sellek told the Daily Friday afternoon that Shirvell took this leave on his own accord.
Upon returning to his position, Shirvell will be subject to a disciplinary hearing with his employer, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, according to Sellek, who was unable to comment further regarding specific details or potential outcomes of the hearing.
Cox, who previously defended Shirvell, told The Detroit News Thursday that he was wrong to stand by Shirvell and support his behavior toward Armstrong. The News had originally reported that he Shirvell had been suspended.
"I'm at fault here," Cox said in the article. "I've been saying for weeks that (Shirvell's) been acting like a bully, that his behavior is immature, but it's after-hours and protected by the First Amendment."
Cox told the News that he hadn’t read all of Shirvell’s blog when he made those comments.
Earlier in the day yesterday, the University administration and community rushed to stand by Armstrong amidst the growing controversy.
In a statement released to The Michigan Daily on Thursday, University President Mary Sue Coleman wrote that the administration supports Armstrong and opposes anyone who compromises the rights and safety of students.
“A high-profile situation involving one of our students is highlighting the importance of values that our institution holds dear,” Coleman wrote. “An individual has chosen to target the elected president of the U-M student body in a reprehensible manner.”
Shirvell started a blog called Chris Armstrong Watch shortly after Armstrong was elected in March. The blog — which he closed to all but "invited readers" on Thursday — accuses Armstrong of promoting a “radical homosexual agenda” on campus and makes contemptuous comments about Armstrong’s family and friends. Last month, Shirvell also spoke during the public comments portion of a Michigan Student Assembly meeting, calling Armstrong a racist and demanding his resignation.
At the meeting and during another confrontation on campus earlier in the year, Shirvell criticized Armstrong for joining the senior honor society Order of Angell. The organization has weathered criticism for allegedly using Native American artifacts during rituals in the past. In 2007 the group — formerly known as Michigamua — changed its name and began releasing its members' names in an effort to be more transparent, though its meetings and activities are still secretive.
Armstrong filed a personal protection order against Shirvell on Sept. 13, according to a representative at Washtenaw County Trial Court. The hearing will be held on Monday at 1:30 p.m. in Ann Arbor
As long as all parties appear, the judge will make a decision regarding the personal protection order on Monday, according to the representative.
Messages and e-mails to Armstrong seeking comment went unreturned last night. But at Tuesday night’s MSA meeting Armstrong said he “wouldn’t succumb to any unwarranted attacks.”
“I, along with the rest of this assembly, (was) elected to this body to represent the University,” he told the assembly on Tuesday. “And nothing said about us, or regarding our personal merits, will waive our commitment to serve the student body.”
On Sept. 14, the University's Department of Public Safety issued a trespass warning — banning Shirvell from University grounds — after receiving complaints of Shirvell stalking and harassing Armstrong outside his house in Ann Arbor, according to DPS spokeswoman Diane Brown.
DPS is still investigating the complaints, Brown said, and Shirvell is in the process of appealing the order with DPS Executive Director Ken Magee.
In her press release, Coleman wrote that the University is working to ensure appropriate measures are taken.
“In addition to its internal action, the University also has called upon others in positions of authority to take all appropriate action to address this situation,” Coleman wrote.
The incidents began gaining national attention after CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewed Shirvell on Sept. 28 and Michigan Attorney General Michael Cox — Shirvell’s employer — on Sept. 29. During the broadcasts, Cooper discussed Shirvell’s blog and questioned Cox about his thoughts on Shirvell’s behavior.
In his interview on Anderson Cooper 360, Cox said that while he deems Shirvell's behavior inappropriate, it would be against the law to fire him for First Amendment-protected speech that Shirvell produced off the clock. However, Cox did say that he would consider sending Shirvell to an “employee assistance program” if Armstrong was granted a personal protection order or if a lawsuit was filed against Shirvell.
While Shirvell said he was not a cyber bully and defended the claims stated on his blog in the interview with Cooper, Cox called Shirvell’s actions “offensive” and “unbecoming of civil discourse.”
In response to the CNN broadcast, viewers throughout the country have contacted Cox and urged him to fire Shirvell. There is also an online petition created by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which enables the public to send messages directly to Cox.
The University community is also responding to the incidents by rallying around Armstrong.
In an e-mail from the Spectrum Center that was sent to the MSA e-mail listserv yesterday, the center presented several ways students can support Armstrong.
According to the e-mail, the center sponsored an “informal community gathering” in its office last night where students could talk about the incident. The Spectrum Center also urged students, faculty and staff who support Armstrong to change their Facebook statuses to “Elected By Us, Respected By Us.”
Today, the center is hosting a "Brown Bag" lunch where students can learn how to be an ally to the LGBT community and how to take action when incidents of bias occur on campus.
Armstrong supporters, not limited to University students, are also adamantly voicing opinions on Facebook pages, such as “We Support Chris Armstrong,” which has 5,610 members, and “Fire Andrew Shirvell,” which has 5,976 members — both as of 8:54 p.m. Thursday night.
On the “We Support Chris Armstrong” discussion page, a post titled “An Open Letter to Attorney General Cox,” includes adults from the University and other colleges sharing their opinions on the issue and calling on Cox to remove Shirvell from his position.
In the release, Coleman reiterated the solidarity of the University community and wrote that the campus will maintain unwavering support of the student body leader.
“As a community, we must not and will not accept displays of intolerance,” Coleman wrote. “We are heartened, but not surprised, by the response of the campus community in supporting Chris. We are impressed with his resiliency and stand by him and the important work he is doing on behalf of all of our students.”
Those outside the University have also been voicing support for Armstrong. Michigan Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm also voiced her opposition to Cox’s decision not to fire Shirvell in a Tweet posted at 3:12 p.m. yesterday.
“If I was still Attorney General and Andrew Shirvell worked for me, he would have already been fired,” the Tweet stated.
In The Detroit News article, Cox called out Granholm’s Tweet — saying that the move was unprofessional.
"I don't know why she's so freaking irresponsible. ... she went to Harvard Law School," Cox said.
"The civil service rules are a huge shield for free speech and she knows that.”
15. The Michigan Daily, September 30, 2010
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Viewpoint: 'U' supports Chris Armstrong
By E. Royster Harper and Laura Blake Jones
Activity over the last few months has brought into sharp focus the unwavering commitment of the University community to social justice and human rights for all. Students, staff and faculty have rallied to support the elected president of the University student body, who has been viciously targeted by an individual because of his sexual orientation.
The reaction by the University community has been exactly what we would expect from the “leaders and best”: overwhelmingly supportive of Chris Armstrong, president of the Michigan Student Assembly.
Likewise, Armstrong and his fellow MSA members have reacted to this unwanted attention by holding their heads high, ignoring the blogger’s taunts and carrying on with their ambitious MSA agenda for the coming year. We commend them for their responsible approach. An important value of this campus is the free flow of ideas and opinions. As a community of scholars we simultaneously preserve and create knowledge.
We ask difficult questions, challenge each others’ best thinking, sometimes change our minds and other times agree to respectfully disagree. While living and working together we also strive to create a campus environment where civility, respect and inclusivity are of paramount importance. This is a place where individuals’ rights to have their personal identities respected and understood is as sacred as other constitutionally protected ideals.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. noted in 1963, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality… Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Freedom of speech and expression do not include behaviors that target, harass, threaten or defame others. As a campus community we must continue to “Stand Up, Step In and Speak Out” against the repeated vitriolic attacks on any one of us. Hateful speech can only be effectively countered by different speech.
We applaud those individuals and student organizations – on our campus and elsewhere – that have taken the opportunity to counter hateful speech with different speech and express support for Chris. A unified show of support demonstrating that acts of bigotry cannot take root here is an important part of our community response.
We stand united to support all members of the University community, in many different ways, seen and unseen. As the University's elected Board of Regents said so clearly at its Sept. 16 meeting, "When one member of our community is targeted, we are all attacked."
E. Royster Harper is the Vice President for Student Affairs. Laura Blake Jones is the Associate Vice President and Dean of Students.
16. Inside Higher Ed, October 1, 2010
1320 18th Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036
By Jack Stripling
In a flash, Tyler Clementi’s story appears to have proven that many gay college students are vulnerable to torment and harassment, despite increasing efforts on campuses to promote tolerance and provide resources. Moreover, the Rutgers University student’s death has shed light on a continuing debate among college administrators about the best way to serve students who may be uncertain about their sexual identities or are taunted for being gay.
Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge last week, after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, allegedly streamed online video of Clementi engaged in an intimate encounter with a young man in Ravi and Clementi's dorm room. It was just three days later that Clementi, 18, informed his friends on Facebook that he was “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.”
“Our colleges and universities are not the welcoming places we think they are for the LGBT [Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender] community,” said Zack Ford, who writes a blog about higher education and gay issues.
In a striking coincidence, just a few days passed between Clementi’s death and the release of a troubling national report on the campus climate for gay students. The report by Campus Pride, a nonprofit network supporting gay students, found that about one quarter of gay staff, faculty and students in the U.S. said they’d experienced harassment, and nearly all – 83 percent – said it was based on sexual identity.
Given the prevalence of reports from students who feel harassed over sexual orientation, it’s disturbing to contemplate that one or two specific incidents may have triggered Clementi’s actions, Ford said.
“There are people who are experiencing tons of those moments throughout their experience at the university, but for him it [maybe] only took one. So what does it say? It shows it really is a real problem, and on so many campuses the students themselves have to be their own advocates, they have to be surrogate administrators," Ford said. "Tyler’s story speaks to just how hard it can be being out on campus and what the real consequences of that negative climate can be.”
It is unclear whether Clementi was openly gay. His roommate’s reported Tweets appeared designed to expose Clementi for “making out with a dude.” Ravi and Molly Wei, another Rutgers freshman, have both been charged with invading Clementi’s privacy in connection with the surreptitious taping.
“If the charges are true, these actions gravely violate the university’s standards of decency and humanity,” Richard L. McCormick, president of Rutgers, said in a written statement Wednesday.
While the case at Rutgers is still unfolding, it has intensified an ongoing discussion about how best to serve students who are openly gay or questioning their sexual orientations. Some students at the university have been pushing for a “safe space” on campus, specifically designated as gender-neutral or welcoming. Such a move, however, raises obvious questions about segregating students based on sexual identity.
Robert O’Brien, an assistant instructor of anthropology at Rutgers who has joined students in the safe space push, said their efforts had thus far been greeted with a lukewarm reception from administrators.
“[Students] were told things like they don’t’ understand how the world works. They were told Rutgers is all a safe space, so why would they need a safe space in their dorms,” said O’Brien, who identifies as bisexual and gender-nonconforming. “What the students are ultimately asking for is, first of all, the right to a dorm space that is going to be accepting of LGBTQ.”
The residence life coordinator at Rutgers did not respond to an e-mail inquiry Thursday, and public affairs officials did not respond to requests to arrange an interview.
While residence life officials across the country are working to protect students from harassment over sexual orientation, there’s debate about the extent to which dorm room assignment methodologies can or should fit into an overall strategy. Gender-neutral dormitories, for instance, have been established “in the best of faith” only to become targets for vandalism and harassment, said Norbert Dunkel, past president of the Association of College and University Housing Officers -- International. On the flip side, deciding not to establish housing that caters to gay students means universities are less able to start targeted programming in the dormitories, he said.
“So the question is which way do you go, and there’s not an answer to that yet. There is a struggle that housing is having,” said Dunkel, assistant vice president and director of housing and residence education at the University of Florida.
Florida has not designated housing with regard to sexual identity, opting instead to employ a Facebook application called RoomBug that allows students to pick their own roommates based on interests, lifestyle choices, identities or other factors. While students may choose one another based on interests as varied as music or study hours, the application would allow them to discuss sexual orientation if they chose.
Successfully protecting students from harassment, however, goes well beyond effective room pairings, experts say. Many colleges have implemented a host of additional support services for gay students, and Rutgers is no exception. The Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities, housed under student affairs at Rutgers, was designed to provide educational, social and leadership development programs for gay students and “allies.” Additionally, the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Alliance of Rutgers University (BiGLARU) traces its roots back to the origins of gay civil rights movements on college campuses.
Rutgers's nondiscrimination policy, which is more far-reaching than that of many colleges, also covers “sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.” A Campus Pride study of individual campuses, which used universities’ own survey responses to assess campus climate, gave Rutgers four of five possible stars overall and three of five stars in the area of housing and residence life.
What Clementi's death may painfully illustrate, however, is that even students on a campus considered to be proactive don't always find the help they need. Indeed, reports indicate that Clementi may have used an anonymous message board to express doubts about how the university would respond if he actually complained.
While some campuses have made progress providing resources, most aren't doing enough, said Shane Windmeyer, founder and executive director of Campus Pride. Citing research from the group’s recent survey, Windmeyer said there’s a disconnect between what colleges say they’re doing to support students and the “institutional” resources – beyond the mere presence of student groups – that are actually in place.
“We have had this picture that colleges and universities are these progressive institutions,” he said. “Only about 7 percent of our colleges and universities across the nation actually have LGBT [institutional] support. That’s alarming.
“It’s absurd to think we haven’t done more on our college campuses in 2010.”
17. CNN, October 1, 2010
CNN Center, 190 Marietta St NW, Atlanta, GA
Michigan attorney general defends employee's right to blog
By CNN Wire Staff
Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox defended an assistant's constitutional right to wage an Internet campaign against an openly gay college student, even though he considers that employee a "bully."
"Here in America, we have this thing called the First Amendment, which allows people to express what they think and engage in political and social speech," Cox told Anderson Cooper on CNN's "AC 360" on Wednesday night. "He's clearly a bully ... but is that protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution? Yes."
"Mr. [Andrew] Shirvell is sort of a frontline grunt assistant prosecutor in my office," Cox said. "He does satisfactory work and off-hours, he's free to engage under both our civil service rules, Michigan Supreme Court rulings and the United States Supreme Court rule."
For nearly six months, Shirvell, an assistant attorney general for the state of Michigan, has blogged about college student Chris Armstrong, an openly gay student assembly president at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Shirvell launched his blog in late April using the online moniker "Concerned Michigan Alumnus."
"Welcome to 'Chris Armstrong Watch,'" Shirvell wrote in his inaugural blog post. "This is a site for concerned University of Michigan alumni, students and others who oppose the recent election of Chris Armstrong -- a RADICAL HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVIST, RACIST, ELITIST, & LIAR -- as the new head of student government."
Among other things, Shirvell has published blog posts that accuse Armstrong of going back on a campaign promise he made to minority students; engaging in "flagrant sexual promiscuity" with another male member of the student government; sexually seducing and influencing "a previously conservative [male] student" so much so that the student, according to Shirvell, "morphed into a proponent of the radical homosexual agenda;" hosting a gay orgy in his dorm room in October 2009; and trying to recruit incoming first-year students "to join the homosexual 'lifestyle.'"
In a written statement from his office on Tuesday, Cox distanced his office from Shirvell's comments.
"Mr. Shirvell's personal opinions are his and his alone, and do not reflect the views of the Michigan Department of Attorney General," Cox said in the written statement provided by his office Tuesday night. "But his immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear."
Shirvell said he works on the blog during his off-hours.
On "AC 360" on Tuesday, Shirvell made no apologies for his blog postings, which include a picture of Armstrong with "Resign" written over his face. The same picture also had a swastika superimposed over a gay pride flag, with an arrow pointing toward Armstrong.
Shirvell acknowledged protesting outside of Armstrong's house and calling him "Satan's representative on the student assembly."
"I'm a Christian citizen exercising my First Amendment rights," Shirvell told Cooper. "I have no problem with the fact that Chris is a homosexual. I have a problem with the fact that he's advancing a radical homosexual agenda."
Armstrong has supported gender-neutral housing at the university for transgender students who haven't had sexual reassignment surgery.
Armstrong told CNN he has hired an attorney and is pursuing legal action against Shirvell.
CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin says Armstrong may have grounds for a harassment case.
18. The New York Times, September 29, 2010
620 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10018
Private Moment Made Public, Then a Fatal Jump
By Lisa W. Foderaro
It started with a Twitter message on Sept. 19: “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.”
That night, the authorities say, the Rutgers University student who sent the message used a camera in his dormitory room to stream the roommate’s intimate encounter live on the Internet.
And three days later, the roommate who had been surreptitiously broadcast — Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old freshman and an accomplished violinist — jumped from the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River in an apparent suicide.
The Sept. 22 death, details of which the authorities disclosed on Wednesday, was the latest by a young American that followed the online posting of hurtful material. The news came on the same day that Rutgers kicked off a two-year, campuswide project to teach the importance of civility, with special attention to the use and abuse of new technology.
Those who knew Mr. Clementi — on the Rutgers campus in Piscataway, N.J., at his North Jersey high school and in a community orchestra — were anguished by the circumstances surrounding his death, describing him as an intensely devoted musician who was sweet and shy.
“It’s really awful, especially in New York and in the 21st century,” said Arkady Leytush, artistic director of the Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra, where Mr. Clementi played since his freshman year in high school. “It’s so painful. He was very friendly and had very good potential.”
The Middlesex County prosecutor’s office said Mr. Clementi’s roommate, Dharun Ravi, 18, of Plainsboro, N.J., and another classmate, Molly Wei, 18, of Princeton Junction, N.J., had each been charged with two counts of invasion of privacy for using “the camera to view and transmit a live image” of Mr. Clementi. The most serious charges carry a maximum sentence of five years.
Mr. Ravi was charged with two additional counts of invasion of privacy for trying a similar live feed on the Internet on Sept. 21, the day before the suicide. A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, James O’Neill, said the investigation was continuing, but he declined to “speculate on additional charges.”
Steven Goldstein, chairman of the gay rights group Garden State Equality, said Wednesday that he considered the death a hate crime. “We are sickened that anyone in our society, such as the students allegedly responsible for making the surreptitious video, might consider destroying others’ lives as a sport,” he said in a statement.
At the end of the inaugural event for the university’s “Project Civility” campaign on Wednesday, nearly 100 demonstrators gathered outside the student center, where the president spoke. They chanted, “Civility without safety — over our queer bodies!”
It is unclear what Mr. Clementi’s sexual orientation was; classmates say he mostly kept to himself. Danielle Birnbohm, a freshman who lived across the hall from him in Davidson Hall, said that when a counselor asked how many students had known Mr. Clementi, only 3 students out of 50 raised their hands.
But Mr. Clementi displayed a favorite quotation on his Facebook page, from the song “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”: “What do you get when you kiss a guy? You get enough germs to catch pneumonia.”
And his roommate’s Twitter message makes plain that Mr. Ravi believed that Mr. Clementi was gay.
A later message from Mr. Ravi appeared to make reference to the second attempt to broadcast Mr. Clementi. “Anyone with iChat,” he wrote on Sept. 21, “I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes, it’s happening again.”
Ms. Birnbohm said Mr. Ravi had said the initial broadcast was an accident — that he viewed the encounter after dialing his own computer from another room in the dorm. It was not immediately known how or when Mr. Clementi learned what his roommate had done. But Ms. Birnbohm said the episode quickly became the subject of gossip in the dormitory.
Mr. Clementi’s family issued a statement on Wednesday confirming the suicide and pledging cooperation with the criminal investigation. “Tyler was a fine young man, and a distinguished musician,” the statement read. “The family is heartbroken beyond words.”
The Star-Ledger of Newark reported that Mr. Clementi posted a note on his Facebook page the day of his death: “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.” Friends and strangers have turned the page into a memorial.
Witnesses told the police they saw a man jump off the bridge just before 9 p.m. on Sept. 22, said Paul J. Browne, the New York Police Department’s chief spokesman. Officers discovered a wallet there with Mr. Clementi’s identification, Mr. Browne said.
The police said Wednesday night that they had found the body of a young man in the Hudson north of the bridge and were trying to identify it.
Officials at Ridgewood High School, where Mr. Clementi graduated in June, last week alerted parents of current students that his family had reported him missing and encouraged students to take advantage of counseling at the school.
The timing of the news was almost uncanny, coinciding with the start of “Project Civility” at Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey. Long in the planning, the campaign will involve panel discussions, lectures, workshops and other events to raise awareness about the importance of respect, compassion and courtesy in everyday interactions.
Events scheduled for this fall include a workshop for students and administrators on residential life on campus and a panel discussion titled “Uncivil Gadgets? Changing Technologies and Civil Behavior.”
Rutgers officials would not say whether the two suspects had been suspended. But in a statement late Wednesday, the university’s president, Richard L. McCormick, said, “If the charges are true, these actions gravely violate the university’s standards of decency and humanity.” At the kickoff event for the civility campaign, Mr. McCormick made an oblique reference to the case, saying, “It is more clear than ever that we need strongly to reassert our call for civility and responsibility for each other.”
Mr. Ravi was freed on $25,000 bail, and Ms. Wei was released on her own recognizance. The lawyer for Mr. Ravi, Steven D. Altman, declined to comment on the accusations. A phone message left at the offices of Ms. Wei’s lawyer was not returned.
Some students on the Busch campus in Piscataway seemed dazed by the turn of events, remembering their last glimpse of Mr. Clementi. Thomas Jung, 19, shared a music stand with Mr. Clementi in the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra.
On Wednesday afternoon, hours before Mr. Clementi’s death, the two rehearsed works by Berlioz and Beethoven. “He loved music,” Mr. Jung said. “He was very dedicated. I couldn’t tell if anything was wrong.”
Reporting was contributed by Al Baker, Barbara Gray, Nate Schweber and Tim Stelloh.
Correction: October 1, 2010
Because of an editing error, an article on Wednesday about a Rutgers student who committed suicide after video showing him in an intimate encounter was streamed on the Internet misidentified, in some editions, the hometown of Molly Wei, a student who was charged with invasion of privacy in the case. She is from Princeton Junction, N.J., not Plainsboro.
19. 365Gay/Associated Press, October 1, 2010
19-year-old gay college student commits suicide
By The Associated Press
From Campus Pride:
(Providence, RI) Campus Pride, the nation’s leading non-profit organization working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and ally college and university students, offers its condolences and support to the family of Raymond Chase who reportedly hung himself in his residence hall room this past Wednesday, September 29, 2010 on the campus of Johnson & Wales in Providence, RI.
“The loss of Raymond this week is the second college LGBT-related suicide in a week and the fifth teenage LGBT suicide in three weeks. The suicide of this openly gay young man is for reasons currently unknown; however, the recent pattern of LGBT youth suicides is cause for grave concern,” said Shane Windmeyer, executive director and founder of Campus Pride. “Campus Pride demands national action be taken to address youth bullying, harassment and the need for safety and inclusion for LGBT youth at colleges and universities across the country. We must not let these tragic deaths go unnoticed. Together we must act decisively to curb anti-LGBT bias incidents, harassment and acts of violence.”
Through its Q Research Institute for Higher Education, Campus Pride released last week its “2010 State of Higher Education for LGBT People.” The in-depth research study is the most comprehensive national LGBT higher education study of its kind. Campus Pride surveyed more than 5,000 LGBT students, faculty and staff for the report. Findings demonstrate that these recent suicides and incidents of harassment are neither rare nor fleeting– they are REAL.
Among the findings in the report:
-One quarter (23%) of LGBQ staff, faculty, and students reported experiencing harassment (defined as any conduct that has interfered with your ability to work or learn). Almost all identified sexual identity as the basis of the harassment (83%). An even greater percentage of transgender students, faculty, & staff reported experiencing harassment (39%) with 87% identifying their gender identity/expression as the basis for the harassment. The form of the harassment experiences by transgender people was more overt and blatant.
-One-third of LGBQ (33%) and transgender (38%) students, faculty, and staff have seriously considered leaving their institution due to the challenging climate.
-More than half of all faculty, students, & staff hide their sexual identity (43%) or gender identity (63%) to avoid intimidation.
-More than a third of all transgender students, faculty, & staff(43%) and13% of LGBQ respondents feared for their physical safety.This finding was more salient for LGBQ students and for LGBQ and/or Transgender People of Color.
For more information about Campus Pride’s “2010 State of Higher Education for LGBT People” report, visit www.campuspride.org/research.
20. Associated Press, October 1, 2010
NJ student's suicide illustrates Internet danger
By Geoff Mulvihill and Samantha Henry
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — The shocking suicide of a college student whose sex life was broadcast over the Web illustrates yet again the Internet's alarming potential as a means of tormenting others and raises questions whether young people in the age of Twitter and Facebook can even distinguish public from private.
Cruel gossip and vengeful acts once confined to the schoolyard or the dorm can now make their way around the world instantly via the Internet, along with photos and live video.
"It's just a matter of when the next suicide's going to hit, when the next attack's going to hit," said Parry Aftab, a New Jersey lawyer who runs the website WiredSafety.
Last week, Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after his roommate and another classmate allegedly used a webcam to secretly broadcast his dorm room sexual encounters with another man. The two classmates have been charged with invasion of privacy, with the most serious charges carrying up to five years in prison.
The suicide of Clementi, a shy, gifted 18-year-old violinist, shocked and disturbed gay rights activists and others on campus.
"Had he been in bed with a woman, this would not have happened," said Rutgers student Lauren Felton, 21, of Warren, N.J. "He wouldn't have been outed via an online broadcast, and his privacy would have been respected and he might still have his life."
The Associated Press found at least 12 cases in the U.S. since 2003 in which children and young adults between 11 and 18 killed themselves after falling victim to some form of "cyberbullying" — teasing, harassing or intimidating with pictures or words distributed online or via text message.
In probably the best-known case, 13-year-old Megan Meier of Daddenne Prairie, Mo., hanged herself in 2006 after she received messages on MySpace — supposedly from a teenage boy — cruelly dumping her. An adult neighbor was later found guilty of taking part in the hoax, but the conviction was overturned.
Earlier this year, 17-year-old Alexis Pilkington of West Islip, N.Y., who had landed a college soccer scholarship, killed herself after receiving a stream of nasty messages.
Gregory Jantz, founder of A Place of Hope, a Seattle mental health care center, said young people who use the Internet to spread something damaging about others often don't realize how hurtful it can be because many of them have grown up in a world that has blurred the line between public and private.
"Our kids are in a different zone now," Jantz said.
Aftab said young people who would never bully someone face to face do it online in part because of the often-false sense of anonymity that the Internet provides.
"They'll also jump on because they don't want to be the next target," Aftab said.
In Clementi's case, prosecutors said that his roommate, Dharun Ravi of Plainsboro, N.J., and Molly Wei of Princeton, N.J., both 18-year-old freshmen, transmitted a live image of Clementi having sex on Sept. 19 and that Ravi tried to webcast a second encounter on Sept. 21, the day before Clementi's suicide. Ravi's lawyer and a lawyer believed to be representing Wei did not return calls.
Luanne Peterpaul, vice chairwoman of the gay rights group Garden State Equality and a former New Jersey prosecutor, said authorities might be able to pursue the case as a hate crime under state law if they are able to establish that the defendants acted because they believed Clementi was gay.
Ravi posted a message on his now-closed Twitter account on Sept. 19: "Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay."
Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan said in a statement: "We will be making every effort to assess whether bias played a role in the incident, and, if so, we will bring appropriate charges."
A lawyer for Clementi's family did not respond to requests for comment on whether Clementi had come out to friends and family about his sexual orientation. He also said the family had no comment.
The mourning continued at Rutgers; in Ridgewood, the suburban New Jersey town where Clementi grew up and attended high school; and across New Jersey.
Clementi's violin teacher for the past five years could not believe he had taken his own life.
"He was a very genuine and, I guess, you could call it a shy person," said Khullip Jeung, 33, who teaches out of his home in Fort Lee. "But when he played the violin, it was different. He had a strong voice. He knew what he wanted to say. And he spoke through his violin. And I think that is the real Tyler that I knew."
Childhood friend Mary Alcaro, who played in a summer music academy with him, said Clementi had been destined for greatness.
"I've never heard anyone make a violin sing the way he did," she said in an e-mail.
Even Gov. Chris Christie had something to say.
"As the father of a 17-year-old, I can't imagine what those parents are feeling today," he said. "Those people who led him to that bridge are going to have to bear that responsibility for the rest of their lives."
Students at West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional High School, from which Ravi and Wei graduated, remembered them as nice people who were not in any way homophobic.
Ravi had gay friends, said Derek Yan, 16, a junior. Yan said he chatted online with Ravi about what college life was like, and Ravi "said he was lucky to have a good roommate. He said his roommate was cool."
Mulvihill reported from Haddonfield. Contributing to this article were Associated Press news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York; videographers Ted Shaffrey in Ridgewood and Bonny Ghosh in Plainsboro; and writers Angela Delli Santi in Trenton and Wayne Parry in Atlantic City.
21. ABC News, October 1, 2010
7 West 66th Street, New York, NY 10023
Bias Crime Charges Weighed After NJ Teen's Suicide
By Geoff Mulvihill and Samantha Henry
As prosecutors consider filing bias-crime charges against two college freshmen accused of streaming online video of a classmate's sexual encounter with another man, a huge divide has emerged between those who support the suspects and those who want to see them punished.
The saga that unfolded this week at Rutgers University has become a flashpoint for debate after the revelation that 18-year-old Tyler Clementi had jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22.
Leading up to the suicide, a post appeared on a website catering to gay men seeking advice on what to do after learning that a roommate secretly filmed a liaison. While it's impossible to be certain that that post and subsequent ones were made by Clementi, they mirror the same timeline as the alleged filming and reflect the anguish someone in that situation might have felt.
Clementi's roommate, Dharun Ravi, of Plainsboro, N.J., and another student, and Molly Wei, of Princeton, N.J., both 18, are charged with invasion of privacy, with the most serious charges carrying a penalty of up to five years in prison.
But Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan said Thursday that more charges were possible under New Jersey's hate-crimes law.
"We will be making every effort to assess whether bias played a role in the incident, and, if so, we will bring appropriate charges," he said in a statement.
The legal question has to do with the motive.
A person can be found guilty of a bias crime in New Jersey if the jury agrees that he or she committed a crime because of a belief that the victim is a member of a protected group, such as a racial minority or gay.
Ravi's lawyer has not responded to requests for comment. Messages left with an attorney believed to be representing Wei were not returned.
High school friends of the suspects, both 2010 graduates of West Windsor-Plainsboro High, say the suspects have no problem with gay people.
"He had gay friends," Derek Yan, 16, told The Associated Press. Yan said that he chatted online with Ravi, an Ultimate Frisbee player, about college life in recent weeks. "He said he was lucky to have a good roommate," Yan said. "He said his roommate was cool."
Numerous websites popped up in defense of the suspects, with some proclaiming their innocence or calling their alleged actions a prank. Countless other sites, however, were dedicated to bashing the suspects or calling for stiffer charges, including manslaughter.
The comments on the pages are emotional and sometimes vitriolic. Some postings call the suspects "sickos" and "cold-blooded killers" while others display homophobia and racism (both suspects are minorities), even thanking the suspects for their possible role in a gay man's death.
Luanne Peterpaul, who has worked as a prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer and serves as the vice chairwoman of the gay rights group Garden State Equality, said bias crimes can be hard to prove.
She said prosecutors should look at evidence including the Twitter messages Ravi may have used to alert friends to the alleged video. She said that there might be clues as to his intent.
Peterpaul said she believes that filming a man and a woman engaged in sex in a dorm room would not have had the same results.
"It's quite possible that maybe they would have videotaped an opposite-sex couple," she said. "But would there have been such a following?"
The saga took another twist when the website Gawker reported that someone started a discussion on a graphic gay-oriented website after realizing his roommate was "spying" on him with a webcam.
The author described his conflicted feelings after reading his roommate's tweets about the author kissing a guy in their room while he watched from afar. Should he report his roommate or request a room change? Would either help or just make things worse? The author later wrote that he told a resident assistant about the filming and that he unplugged his roommate's computer and searched the room for hidden cameras before another liaison.
The last known communication from Clementi was on his Facebook page. It said, "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry."
Friends were shocked that Clementi, a talented violinist who was known as quiet but happy, would have been embroiled in scandal or would have killed himself.
"I would never expect this to happen to him," said John Shen, a student at the New York Institute of Technology and a high school friend of Clementi's who last saw him about a month ago. "He's such a good kid. I've never seen him angry."
22. The New York Times, October 1, 2010
620 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10018
Official to Face Hearing Over Blog Attacks
By Emma Graves Fitzsimmons
An assistant attorney general in Michigan has taken a personal leave of absence and may be disciplined for his online attacks on a gay campus leader at the University of Michigan.
The official, Andrew Shirvell, has drawn national attention — and calls for his ouster — because of his attacks through his personal blog on the student, Chris Armstrong, who is believed to be the first openly gay president of the university’s student assembly. Mr. Shirvell has called Mr. Armstrong a racist with a “radical homosexual agenda.”
Mr. Shirvell, will face a disciplinary hearing when he returns to work, a spokesman for the attorney general said Friday. Mr. Armstrong, 21, has filed for a personal protection order against Mr. Shirvell.
University officials and students have come together to support Mr. Armstrong. The university has banned Mr. Shirvell from campus, and its president, Mary Sue Coleman, called his behavior reprehensible. “As a community, we must not and will not accept displays of intolerance,” Ms. Coleman said in a statement.
A Facebook group called We Support Chris Armstrong had more than 10,600 supporters on Friday.
The state’s attorney general, Mike Cox, said earlier this week that Mr. Shirvell had a right to express his opinions when he was not at work even though his actions were “offensive.” But on Friday, Mr. Cox’s office said that he decided to call a disciplinary hearing because more issues regarding Mr. Shirvell’s conduct had come to light in recent days.
The blog, which is called Chris Armstrong Watch, has been made private. In Mr. Armstrong’s request for an order of protection, he said that Mr. Shirvell took pictures outside his house at 1:30 a.m.
Efforts to reach Mr. Shirvell were unsuccessful, but in an interview on CNN, he said he had “protested” outside Mr. Armstrong’s home. Mr. Shirvell, who made the point many times during the interview that he was a University of Michigan alum, said that one of his major issues with Mr. Armstrong was his campaign to create “gender-neutral housing” on campus where students could live with someone of the same or opposite sex.
“I have no problem with the fact that Chris is a homosexual,” Mr. Shirvell said in the interview. “I have a problem with the fact that he is advancing a very radical agenda.”
Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, a Democrat, weighed in via Twitter, saying, “If I was still attorney general and Andrew Shirvell worked for me, he would have already been fired.” David Leyton, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, demanded that Mr. Shirvell be fired.
Mr. Armstrong, who did not respond to a request for an interview, was an intern this summer with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and in the past with the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.
Denis Dison, communications director at the fund, said that a public official should not be bullying students.
“We are advocating that nobody engage in the type of harassment that he was engaging in,” Mr. Dison said.
23. The News-Times, October 1, 2010
333 Main Street, Danbury, CT 06810
WestConn students say campus accepting, but with exceptions
By Vinti Singh
DANBURY -- Save for a couple of minor homophobic occurances, openly gay Western Connecticut State University student Kyle Papallo said the university is a "very accepting environment."
University President James Schmotter echoed that comment through spokesman Sherri Hill. That the university's Gay Straight Alliance was voted best student organization last year is an indication of the university's environment, he added.
Many WestConn students said they were saddened and shocked after they heard about Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old Rutgers University student who killed himself after his roommate streamed footage of him having sex
with another man on the Internet. But the WestConn students said
they did not think bullying or homophobia was a pervasive problem on campus.
"We're more tolerant," said senior Patrick White, 23, who will be participating in the Gay Straight Alliance's upcoming drag show.
Still, the Gay Straight Alliance is reacting to Clementi's death., which is one of six gay teen suicides around the country that have made headlines in September, according to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender website dallasvoice.com.
The campus already has "safe-zones," places such as professors' offices and the University Health Service, where gay students can go for guidance.
"We are proposing to the student body to come and be trained in how to maintain a safe-zone," Papallo said.
Also, the Alliance regularly fundraises for The Trevor Project, the only 24-hour, gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender suicide prevention hotline.
But Miles Massicotte, 20, said he does hear homophobic comments around campus sometimes, though they may not be intentional.
"People still use `gay' or `faggot' as derogatory, without thinking that they have a double meaning," Massicotte said.
Clementi's roommate, Dharun Ravi, allegedly jeered Clementi on his Twitter account for "making out with a dude." Later, Ravi invited other people to video chat with him to watch Clementi have sex with another man.
Davin Hutton, 21, said her peers routinely use Twitter to make fun of others, and Massicotte said he has seen disparaging comments about other people on his friends' Facebook walls.
Social media has "completely convoluted conversation," Rachel Pelchat, 18, said, because "it makes it easier to say something about someone, and not have to see their reaction."
"A person's Facebook wall is becoming their personality," Massicotte added.
Bene Cordaro, 17, said she hoped Clementi's death causes people to realize they are not detached from what they say on Facebook and Twitter.
Openly gay Raymond Chase, 19, a student at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., hung himself in his dorm room Wednesday, according to dallasvoice.com. It is unclear whether his death was a result of bullying, the Voice reported, but the website said five other suicides: Asher Brown, 13, of Houston; Seth Walsh, 13, of Tehachapi, Calif.; Billy Lucas, 15, of Greensburg, Ind.; and Justin Aaberg, 15, of Minnesota, and Clementi have been directly linked to anti-gay bullying.
Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), surpassed only by accidents and homicide.
Contact Vinti Singh at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-731-3331.
24. The Providence Journal, October 2, 2010
75 Fountain St., Providence, RI 02902
R.I. News Digest: URI students end sit-in at library
By Donita Naylor
SOUTH KINGSTOWN — The students who occupied the 24-hour room at the University of Rhode Island library to “interrupt hate” and raise issues of bias against homosexuals have ended their sit-in after eight days, saying their goals were met.
URI officials and Brian Stack, president of the Gay Straight Alliance and leader of the sit-in, said Friday that agreements were reached, and the peaceful protest had ended.
After a week and a day of keeping their vigil in shifts at the open-all-night library work area and cafe, Stack said he and fellow protesters from the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Center were “all going to Provincetown this weekend to celebrate.”
URI President David M. Dooley noted the “courage and perseverance of the LGBT students,” saying they “did a magnificent job in educating the broader campus community about issues of mutual respect, difference and the true meaning of creating a campus community.”
Agreements were reached to:
-Add more sensitivity training for students, staff and faculty.
-Give GLBT students a voice on several university committees.
-Accelerate the schedule for adding a chief diversity officer to the administration and another staff member to the GLBT Center.
-Turn the Ruggles House on Upper College Road into the group’s new center, with apartments available to rent to students.
-Use numbers rather than names to identify cases referred to the Bias Response Team when confidentiality is key, and further refine the protocol for responding to bias complaints.
-Create an advisory commission to explore and advocate for LGBT issues.
“Students will be actively involved,” said Donald DeHayes, provost and vice president for academic affairs, as the university works “toward a campus climate that is safe and free of harassment and discrimination.”
25. PBS NewsHour, October 1, 2010
NewsHour Staff, 2700 South Quincy Street, Arlington, VA 22206
Part 1: Rutgers Student's Suicide Prompts Privacy, Cyber-Bullying Debates
Part 2: Student's Death Sparks Questions on Privacy in the Digital Age
Click links to listen.
JIM LEHRER: The death of a college student is sparking questions about harassment and the boundaries of online privacy. Ray Suarez begins our story with some background.
RAY SUAREZ: Students at Rutgers University are mourning the loss of a classmate who committed suicide just over a week ago and whose death has triggered a larger conversation about protecting privacy in the digital age.
BRIDGETTE WAMAKIMA, Rutgers University Student: In order to prevent, just put stricter, like, rules and enforcements for them and to just ensure that it doesn't happen again.
RAY SUAREZ: On Wednesday night, students gathered to remember 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, a freshman and talented violinist.
On September 22, Clementi jumped to his death from New York's George Washington Bridge. It came just three days after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, and classmate Molly Wei first allegedly broadcast Clementi's sexual encounter with another man, secretly, live over the Internet.
Ravi then sent a message on Twitter: "Roommate asked for the room until midnight. I went into Molly's room and turned on my Webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay."
Two days later, Ravi attempted spying a second time, but, this time, Clementi shut off the computer. The next day, Clementi posted this status on his Facebook: "Jumping off the G.W. Bridge, sorry."
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called it an unspeakable tragedy.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-N.J.), New Jersey: And those people who helped to lead him to that bridge are going to have to bear that responsibility for the rest of their lives.
RAY SUAREZ: The investigation into what happened inside this Rutgers dorm is now quickly shifting to questions about why it happened. Clementi's death has and fueled the debate over privacy and cyber-bullying.
DR. JEFF LIEBERMAN, department of psychiatry chairman, Columbia University: The tools of the Internet enabled this cruel or sadistic behavior to be amplified and publicized, not just on the campus, but throughout the world. And that really contributed to the extreme emotional reaction that the student had and his impulsive decision to take his life.
RAY SUAREZ: It has also spurred gay-rights activists, who say Clementi's online outing was a hate crime.
STEVEN GOLDSTEIN, Garden State Equality: You have to prosecute this as a hate crime. Anything less would be an insult to the memory of the young man our society lost.
RAY SUAREZ: Ravi and Wei have been charged with invasion of privacy, but prosecutors are currently considering filing more severe charges under New Jersey's bias crimes law. This week, Rutgers launched a new initiative, Project Civility, designed to get students thinking about how they treat others.
RAY SUAREZ: We get two perspectives now on some of the questions and concerns that are being discussed as a result of this case. William Saletan has been writing about the privacy issues for "Slate" magazine. And Shane Windmeyer works on gay, lesbian and transgender rights at colleges and universities. He is the founder and executive director of Campus Pride and joins us from Charlotte.
And, Shane, given what you know now -- and there are still facts coming out about this case -- what do you make of it?
SHANE WINDMEYER, founder, Campus Pride: You know, our organization, Campus Pride, is very disturbed by the rash of teenage gay suicides that have happened over the last three weeks, including the one at Johnson & Wales just this past Wednesday. That brings it up to five gay suicides that have happened.
And, so, we're -- we're deeply disturbed. And -- and, ultimately, our goal is that colleges and universities across the country take action and use these deaths as an opportunity to really create a safer learning environment for -- for all students.
RAY SUAREZ: William, you wrote about this for this morning's Slate.com. What have you been concluding?
WILLIAM SALETAN, national correspondent, "Slate": Well, I'm really struck by the convergence of an old weakness of our nature, which is to exploit -- you know, students take advantage of each other. They often humiliate each other. They play pranks.
But that is now magnified by the technology and the ability of a student to get easy access to someone in a position of, you know, being naked or in an awkward position, and -- and to have that image broadcast more easily from one computer to another.
So, it's the technology that is making it easier for students to play pranks at a very -- at, in this case, a lethal expense.
RAY SUAREZ: The two suspects are being charged under a class four felony statute that is roughly akin to being a Peeping Tom. You use the word prank. Is this a prank or a crime?
WILLIAM SALETAN: Well, I think it is a mistake to approach this case from the standpoint that it is a terrible, pathological thing that was done here, and that we need to focus on punishing this particular student.
I think what is scary to me about this case is how easy it was, and how, if you look at the case, how the young man, Mr. Ravi, was drawn into it, where he first goes to another room, and the Webcam is not turned toward his roommate. But then he realizes that he can do this, and then, gradually, the mischief starts to build.
It is the temptation that the technology poses that draws him in. And I think he didn't understand how serious what he was doing was. And a lot of students don't. And that is what we need to focus on, spreading the message about what is acceptable and what is not.
RAY SUAREZ: Shane Windmeyer, what do you think? Is this a crime, or, as some are saying, a hate crime?
SHANE WINDMEYER: Well, I do think that there's reason to look at a bias-motivated crime here.
I do think it's much more severe than a prank or just an incident that has occurred. The fact that this young man who perpetrated this act is a heterosexual, privileged male and that he didn't understand the repercussion of what he did doesn't condone it.
Our national report that Campus Pride released last week actually shows that a quarter of all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students actually experience harassment and discrimination on their college campuses across the United States.
And, so, this is a larger issue, not only for Rutgers University, but for all college and universities, to really wake up and understand, we have a long way to go in creating these safe learning environments for our students.
RAY SUAREZ: Well, Shane, is there more help on campus today than there was when you were a student, when I was a student, for people who are feeling despairing, gay or straight or anyone who feels they may be at risk for suicide?
SHANE WINDMEYER: Well, you know, the suicide is the ultimate last choice for many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth after a long period of harassment, bullying throughout their life.
And I -- I don't know Tyler. I don't know his family. But, in not -- in not understanding really the issue here, college campuses, you know, only about 7 percent of them actually have institutional support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students.
And it's 2010. Thirteen percent of them actually have sexual orientation in their nondiscrimination statement. So, yes, we have made progress over the last 20 years, since I have been in college, but the fact that there's been five teenage youth suicides that are gay young men is cause for alarm.
RAY SUAREZ: William, does the idea of what constitutes abuse, what constitutes harassment have to broaden, have to change to reflect the possibilities of this technology?
WILLIAM SALETAN: Yes, I think it does. I think it does. It's very important to understand -- when I was researching this, I looked went back and looked. There was a case that happened in Oregon State University nine years ago, a very similar case, roommate using a laptop and making an image of his roommate having sex.
And he said -- after he was caught and prosecuted, he said, "I didn't understand that this was wrong." Now, that was nine years ago. Here we are, again, a decade later, and the message has still not gotten out.
And I think that the problem is that now we have many more students who have laptops. The laptops have Webcams. The Webcams in many cases are built in. They are not conspicuous. It is very easy to just turn it on, as this young man did, to remotely activate it now, if you have a video chat or Skype or something like.
And it has just made it so much more -- so much easier to do that. And we have not educated these kids to handle the responsibility of the additional power they have, in this case, power to do damage.
RAY SUAREZ: Ah. Ah. Well, there you are. You are talking about how the machines are becoming easier to use.
WILLIAM SALETAN: Yes.
RAY SUAREZ: But isn't something also changing about young people themselves? They talk about where they are. They tell everyone.
WILLIAM SALETAN: Yes.
RAY SUAREZ: They take pictures of it, send the pictures to everyone on their lists. I mean, it got to the point where Tyler went on Facebook to change his status and send, in effect, a digital suicide note.
WILLIAM SALETAN: Oh, and, supposedly, he took the computer with him to the bridge. He took the cell phone and the computer. He is announcing his death on there.
He also -- you know, there -- there -- apparently, he had an online profile at a Webchat, a Web site where you go, and you -- it is a heavily sexual site, but it is consensual, OK? So he is used to that technology.
What he is not used to is the notion of non-consensual, someone taking an image of you and broadcasting it without your consent. And it is a very simple rule. But the students have not gotten the message.
I think it would be great if we came out of this with something we could call the Rutgers rules, which is where -- teach the students where you have an expectation of privacy, for example, in your dorm room, and the cardinal rule of consent. It is OK to broadcast something -- you can exchange information consensually, but not without the consent of the person who is being videotaped.
RAY SUAREZ: Shane Windmeyer, can you do that? Can you take an act that is essentially unprivate -- that is, leaving your family home and moving on to a college campus, eating with other people, having a roommate -- and build in some boundaries for privacy, for protection, to be safe?
SHANE WINDMEYER: Well, I do think, for young people today, privacy is an issue that they're encountering and stumbling in many ways, as has been noted.
You know, Facebook has an impact on the victims as well of this incident. You know, the suicide that happened has not only impacted Rutgers, but has impacted colleges across the country and young people across the country.
And we see that as a result of Facebook and Twitter. But let us not forget that Tyler also reported this incident to his resident assistant, according to some of the news reports. And I have still yet to hear what happened with that incident report to his resident assistant, which is -- is very disturbing, when we think about a student trying to outreach to get maybe support or direction from someone who is supposed to be there for him.
RAY SUAREZ: Shane Windmeyer, William Saletan, thank you, both.
WILLIAM SALETAN: Thank you.
SHANE WINDMEYER: Thank you.
26. The New York Times, October 2, 2010
620 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10018
Bullying, Suicide, Punishment
By John Schwartz
TYLER CLEMENTI may have died from exposure in cyberspace. His roommate and another student, according to police, viewed Mr. Clementi’s intimate encounter with another man on a Webcam and streamed it onto the Internet. Mr. Clementi, an 18-year-old violinist in his freshman year at Rutgers University, jumped off of the George Washington Bridge, and now the two face serious criminal charges, including invasion of privacy.
The prosecutor in the case has also said that he will investigate bringing bias charges, based on Mr. Clementi’s sexual orientation, which could raise the punishment to 10 years in prison from 5.
But the case has stirred passionate anger, and many have called for tougher charges, like manslaughter — just as outrage led to similar calls against the six students accused of bullying Phoebe Prince, a student in South Hadley, Mass., who also committed suicide earlier this year.
What should the punishment be for acts like cyberbullying and online humiliation?
That question is as difficult to answer as how to integrate our values with all the things in our lives made of bits, balancing a right to privacy with the urge to text, tweet, stream and post.
And the outcry over proper punishment is also part of the continuing debate about how to handle personal responsibility and freedom. Just how culpable is an online bully in someone’s decision to end a life?
It is not the first time cruel acts and online distribution have combined tragically. In 2008, Jessica Logan, 18, hanged herself after an ex-boyfriend circulated the nude cellphone snapshots she had “sexted” to him.
Public humiliation and sexual orientation can be an especially deadly blend. In recent weeks, several students have committed suicide after instances that have been described as cyberbullying over sexual orientation, including Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old in Tehachapi, Calif., who hanged himself from a tree in his backyard last month and died after more than a week on life support.
A survey of more than 5,000 college students, faculty members and staff members who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender published last month by the advocacy group Campus Pride found that nearly one in four reported harassment, almost all related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Warren J. Blumenfeld, an associate professor of curriculum and instruction at Iowa State University and an author of the Campus Pride study, also conducted a smaller survey of 350 nonheterosexual students between the ages of 11 and 22 and found that about half of the respondents reported being cyberbullied in the 30 days before the survey, and that more than a quarter had suicidal thoughts.
“Those students who are face-to-face bullied, and/or cyberbullied, face increased risk for depression, PTSD, and suicidal attempts and ideation,” Professor Blumenfeld said.
But punishment for people who do such a thing is still up for debate. In the Rutgers case, New Jersey prosecutors initially charged the two students, Dharum Ravi and Molly W. Wei, with two counts each of invasion of privacy for using the camera on Sept. 19. Mr. Ravi faces two additional counts for a second, unsuccessful attempt to view and transmit another image of Mr. Clementi two days later.
If Mr. Ravi’s actions constituted a bias crime, that could raise the charges from third-degree invasion of privacy to second degree, and double the possible punishment to 10 years.
Still, for all the talk of cyberbullying, the state statute regarding that particular crime seems ill suited to Mr. Clementi’s suicide.
Like most states with a cyberbullying statute, New Jersey’s focuses on primary and high school education, found in the part of the legal code devoted to education, not criminal acts. The privacy law in this case is used more often in high-tech peeping Tom cases involving hidden cameras in dressing rooms and bathrooms. State Senator Barbara Buono sponsored both pieces of legislation, and said the law had to adapt to new technologies. “No law is perfect,” she said. “No law can deter every and any instance of this kind of behavior. We’re going to try to do a better job.”
Still, the punishment must fit the crime, not the sense of outrage over it. While some have called for manslaughter charges in the Rutgers case, those are difficult to make stick. Reaching a guilty verdict would require that the suicide be viewed by a jury as foreseeable — a high hurdle in an age when most children report some degree of bullying.
Besides, finding the toughest possible charges isn’t the way the law is supposed to work, said Orin S. Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University who specializes in cybercrime. “There’s an understandable wish by prosecutors to respond to the moral outrage of society,” he said, “but the important thing is for the prosecution to follow the law.”
The fact that a case of bullying ends in suicide should not bend the judgment of prosecutors, he said. Society should be concerned, he said, when it appears that the government is “prosecuting people not for what they did, but for what the victim did in response.”
Finding the right level of prosecution, then, can be a challenge. On the one hand, he said, “it’s college — everybody is playing pranks on everybody else.” On the other, “invading somebody’s privacy can inflict such great distress that invasions of privacy should be punished, and punished significantly.”
There is also the question of society’s role. Students are encouraged by Facebook and Twitter to put their every thought and moment online, and as they sacrifice their own privacy to the altar of connectedness, they worry less about the privacy of others.
Teenagers “think that because they can do it, that makes it right,” said Nancy E. Willard, a lawyer and founder of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use.
Impulsiveness, immaturity and immense publishing power can be a dangerous mix, she said. “With increased power to do things comes increased responsibility to make sure that what you’re doing is O.K.,” she said.
That is why Daniel J. Solove, author of “The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor and Privacy on the Internet,” said society needed to work on education.
“We teach people a lot of the consequences” of things like unsafe driving, he said, “but not that what we do online could have serious consequences.”
That sounds good, of course, but adults still drive recklessly after all that time in driver’s ed. And it is easy and cheap to say that “kids can be so cruel at that age,” but failures of judgment can be found almost anywhere you look.
After all, what are we to make of Andrew Shirvell, an assistant attorney general in Michigan who devoted his off hours to a blog denouncing the openly gay student body president at his alma mater, the University of Michigan? His posts include accusations that the student, Chris Armstrong, is a “radical homosexual activist” and a photo of Mr. Armstrong doctored with a rainbow flag and swastika. He told Anderson Cooper that he is “a Christian American exercising my First Amendment rights.”
On Friday, the attorney general’s office announced that Mr. Shirvell was taking personal leave pending a disciplinary hearing.
27. News 14 Carolina, October 2, 2010
316 E. Morehead Street, Suite 100, Charlotte, NC 28202
College fair held to introduce LGBT-friendly campuses
By: Aundrea Cline-Thomas
Click link for video.
CHARLOTTE - A college fair this weekend was the first of its kind in the Southeast.
Campus Pride held the fair for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in Charlotte to introduce students to campuses that foster a safe and inclusive environment for students. It comes after the suicides of five gay teenagers in the last three weeks. It's a concern for many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.
“I knew the first school I was at just was not a good place for me to grow and learn and not an environment where I felt safe and comfortable going to teachers and I felt like I had resources,” said junior Jillian Metcalfe, of Warren Wilson College.
Now colleges are examining what type of environment they provide to LGBT students after Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi, 18, took his own life after a video of his sexual encounter with another man was posted online.
“25-percent of gay youth encounter harassment inside the classroom and outside the classroom on college campuses,” said Shane Windmeyer, exec. director of Campus Pride.
Campus Pride leaders hope college fairs like this help LGBT students identify campuses that are more open to their lifestyle. While they say they're used to very vocal opposition, they assure students there are places that accept them just as they are.
28. Detroit Free Press, October 2, 2010
615 West Lafayette Boulevard, Detroit, MI 48226
Assistant AG to face a hearing: Discipline sought after campus ban
By Lori Higgins
It's not the blog attacking a student leader who is gay at the University of Michigan that has an assistant attorney general facing a disciplinary hearing. It's his actions outside of that blog that have concerned Attorney General Mike Cox, who has defended his employee on free-speech grounds.
On Friday, Cox's office confirmed that Andrew Shirvell would face a disciplinary hearing when he returns from a paid personal leave of absence.
What prompted Cox to pursue discipline?
Cox said through a spokesman that it was upon learning late this week that Shirvell had been banned from the U-M campus and is the subject of a personal protection order filing for, among other things, standing outside the home of that student leader, Chris Armstrong, at 1:30 a.m. videotaping.
"Standing outside anyone's home in the middle of the night ... is not an action he would recommend to any state employee," said John Sellek, a Cox spokesman.
Shirvell has been under fire for weeks for his "Chris Armstrong Watch" blog, which accuses the student of pursuing a radical gay agenda on campus.
The attacks have united the U-M community, with everyone from the president to individual students showing support for Armstrong, president of the Michigan Student Assembly.
"We are heartened, but not surprised, by the response of the campus community in supporting Chris," U-M President Mary Sue Coleman said.
A "We Support Chris Armstrong" Facebook page grew from 6,700 people late Thursday to more than 10,000 Friday. Brendan Campbell, 19, a U-M junior from Grand Rapids, said the support for Armstrong has been unanimous.
"We elected Chris to be our leader, to be our president," Campbell said. The blog, he said, "is unfortunate. It's really terrible. But it's great that so many students have expressed so much support for Chris."
Sellek wouldn't say what discipline Shirvell will face.
Asked whether Shirvell was encouraged to take the leave of absence, Sellek said Shirvell "took the leave of his own volition."
He said Cox remains a defender of Shirvell's free-speech rights, even as Cox distanced himself from his views.
"He still firmly believes that he would jump to the defense of any state employee to have their First Amendment free-speech rights outside the office," Sellek said.
Contact LORI HIGGINS: 313-222-6651 or email@example.com
29. Daily Camera, October 1, 2010
PO Box 591, Boulder, CO 80306
CU-Boulder students proposing gender-blind housing
By Brittany Anas
Some University of Colorado students involved with the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Center are touching off a discussion about co-ed roommate options in the dorms.
There are no formal proposals for mixed-gender housing, according to John Fox, of CU's Residence Life. But some students will be requesting that housing officials consider allowing students in the dorms to room with somebody of a different gender, according to Kevin Correa, assistant director of the GLBT Resource Center.
The suicide of a student at Rutgers University in New Jersey has put the spotlight on campus climate and dorm life for gay students. Tyler Clementi committed suicide this week by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after the freshman's sexual encounter with another man was broadcast online. Dharun Ravi, Clementi's roommate, and fellow Rutgers freshman Molly Wei, both 18, have been charged with invading Clementi's privacy.
While there have been no similar tragedies at CU, advocates say a gender-neutral housing idea may improve residence life for GLBT students. Campus Pride, a national nonprofit, rates CU with four out of five stars in its guide of GLBT-friendly schools.
More than 50 schools across the country have options for some form of gender-neutral housing, according to the National Student Genderblind Campaign. The group lobbies for colleges to give students the option to have roommates of the opposite sex, saying "gender-based segregation" infringes on student rights.
The group also argues that traditional rooming policies marginalize gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, who might feel more comfortable sharing a room with someone of the opposite sex. Yale University is among the most recent schools to give mixed-gender housing a whirl, with a pilot program that allows seniors to live together on the campus, regardless of gender.
Correa said sometimes students opt to live in a single room rather than with somebody of the same gender. But that deprives them of the sense of community fostered in dorms, he said.
CU student Vicki Karasik -- who lives on University Hill with other college women -- said she favors the option of co-ed housing, saying students could live with close friends who are of the opposite gender.
Besides, she said, floors in the residence halls are already co-ed.
CU freshman Taylor Deamon, who lives in Baker Hall, said she's not sold on the idea of gender-blind housing options.
"That could set up some awkward situations," she said.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or firstname.lastname@example.org
30. The Star-Ledger, October 3, 2010
1 Star Ledger Plaza, Newark, NJ 07102
Rutgers student Tyler Clementi's suicide spurs action across U.S.
By Judy Peet
Relatively few people knew Tyler Clementi before he jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge, but the wake from that act is now felt around the world.
Within hours after the Rutgers University freshman’s body was discovered in the Hudson River last week, his name became known around the world.
MTV stars were lining up to film anti-suicide announcements in his name. Ellen DeGeneres posted a personal tribute to Clementi on her website. Almost every major media outlet in the country devoted time to the story and tens of thousands of people participated in internet memorials to the 18-year-old Ridgewood student.
A bill is already being drafted in New Jersey to stiffen criminal penalties for cyber harassment. Gay rights groups announced a series of New Jersey town hall meetings on Oct. 6 and 7 in Clementi’s memory.
Why has the case touched such a nerve?
"Intolerance is growing at the same time cyberspace has given every one of us an almost magical ability to invade other people’s lives," said Robert O’Brien, a Rutgers instructor who says he has, by default, become a spokesman for "overwhelmed" lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students on campus.
No one knows why Clementi, a talented young violinist, took his life, but it came after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, used a webcam to watch Clementi having a sexual encounter with another man in their dorm room, prosecutors said.
Ravi had set up the webcam and was watching with a friend, Molly Wei, in her room in the same dormitory, according to authorities. Both have since been charged with invasion of privacy. Clementi appears to have found out about the webcast afterward and had filed a complaint with the resident assistant, according to comments posted on a website that seemed to be written by the Rutgers student, even though he didn’t use his name or name of his school.
He jumped on Sept. 22.
It took a week to find the body.
The memorials in his honor were arranged within hours, ironically, through the same social media used to torment him.
"Tyler is the fourth highly publicized gay teen to kill himself in four weeks and he did it the day after the release of the first major study of college campuses that found homosexual students are most likely to experience blatant oppression and hostility," O’Brien added. "I think many people are finally saying enough is enough."
The Clementi case also occurred on the eve of a series of weeklong events across the country in anticipation of "National Coming Out Day" on Oct. 11.
Another factor, several experts said, is Rutgers University is not a parochial little school in the middle of the Bible Belt. It is a diverse series of campuses in the heart of one of the most cosmopolitan regions in the nation.
"Rutgers is justifiably proud of its history as a very progressive, inclusive school. If things like what happened to Tyler Clementi could happen at Rutgers, then gays aren’t going to feel safe on any campus anywhere," said Shane Windmeyer, founder and executive director of Campus Pride, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a safer college environment for LGBT students.
"People worried about LGBT kids in high school, but figured they were safe once they got to college," Windmeyer added. "This is a national wake-up call."
The College Pride study, entitled "The State of Higher Education for LGBT People," surveyed more than 5,000 students, faculty members and administrators at colleges and universities across the country.
Although the study was criticized because it was conducted by a gay organization and the respondents were limited to self-identified non-heterosexuals, it did reinforce earlier, smaller studies. It found gays are vastly more likely to experience discrimination on campus, more likely to drop out because of harassment and much more likely to fear for their physical safety.
"The climate on campus is better than, say, 20 years ago, but it still remains troubling," Windmeyer said. "People say sticks and stones won’t break your bones, but there’s only so much thick skin you can have."
Growing up in Kansas, Windmeyer, who came out at the University of Kansas in the 1990s, said, "I dreamed of going to a place like Rutgers, where it wasn’t a big deal to be gay. I wonder now, though, whether the administration there has been resting on its laurels."
Rutgers gay alumni have been wondering the same thing since the Clementi incident, said William Matthews, spokesman for the gay alumni association, which is recognized on the university website.
"We formed to act as role models for incoming LGBT students, to let them know you can be gay and successful and happy," said Matthews, a senior information scientist at Novo Nordisk in Princeton. "But we should have done more. We should have been mentoring those kids."
On Thursday, the same day Clementi’s family confirmed he committed suicide, Rutgers gay alumni posted an online petition to be sent to university President Richard McCormick.
The petition said, in part: "Rutgers University has a long-standing tradition of queer student activism — a tradition that has sustained us and made us proud to call Rutgers our alma mater.
"We call on all members of the Rutgers University community to protect, support, and respect its entire student body and in particularly those who are socially marginalized," continued the petition that has already been signed by 30 alumni, several of whom now teach at universities that include MIT, Temple, Columbia and NYU.
On Friday, McCormick released a statement, which noted: "This tragedy and the events surrounding it have raised critical questions about the climate of our campuses."
Adding that students, alumni and parents have suggested Rutgers is "not fully welcoming and accepting of all students," McCormick said he will meet with student leaders of the LGBT community to identify "areas in which Rutgers can better support the needs of this community."
On the campus itself, there will be a candlelight vigil on the steps of Brower Commons on College Avenue in New Brunswick tonight.
Throughout the dining halls, student centers and dormitories last week, echoes of the same conversations could be heard again and again.
Yes, what Ravi did was wrong, but was it criminal? Why doesn’t the university have any "safe place" for students who might feel uncomfortable in their dorm rooms? Did anybody actually know Clementi, who had been at school for barely a month? Did anybody ever think that they might be spied on in their own rooms?
"The saddest thing is that there was help for Tyler, but he probably didn’t know where to go," said Aaron Schenkel, 18, a freshman who experienced being different growing up in St. Lucia. "It’s just so overwhelming to be a freshman anyway, and for Tyler, it seems like his private life came out in the worst possible way.
"I wish I had known him."
31. The Star-Ledger, October 3, 2010
1 Star Ledger Plaza, Newark, NJ 07102
Hundreds attend Rutgers University's candlelight vigil in memory of Tyler Clementi
By Philip Read and Amy Ellis Nutt
NEW BRUNSWICK - Hundreds of candles struggled to stay lit as a light rain fell on mourners who gathered on the main campus at Rutgers University tonight to honor the memory of freshman Tyler Clementi.
Shortly after 7 p.m., Jenny Kurtz, acting director of the university’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups, approached the podium on the steps of Brower Commons on College Avenue in New Brunswick.
"Tonight begins the process of healing," she told nearly 1,000 people who gathered to remember Clementi, who committed suicide after his sexual encounter with another man was secretly viewed by others.
Silence followed, and continued for the next 30 minutes, interrupted only by the sounds of revving engines from buses letting off students across the street, the clicking of press cameras and the occasional cries of a baby.
Several members of the university community spoke at the end of the half-hour of silence.
"Everyone needs a safe environment in which to live together," said Barry Klassel, humanist chaplain at Rutgers. "Everything that happens is an opportunity to grow and understand, an opportunity to change the attitudes we might have."
Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge almost two weeks ago, days after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, allegedly used his laptop’s webcam to stream the encounter between Clementi and the other man.
The suicide — and news that Ravi and a friend, Molly Wei, have been arrested for invading Clementi’s privacy — has sparked international headlines.
At Rutgers, a protest took place Friday in support of gay rights and a moment of silence was held before the start of Saturday’s football game.
Tonight’s vigil was the largest demonstration yet on campus in support of Clementi, his family and greater understanding of diversity. The call for tolerance comes just weeks into the new academic semester and the launch of Rutgers’ "Project Civility" campaign, a two-year, universitywide conversation about respecting others.
The vigil took place beneath a red, white and rainbow-colored banner reading "Rutgers Reacts: Uniting for Healing, People & Social Justice."
The handful of speakers who addressed the crowd stressed the need to understand diversity.
"The law is to love one another," said Rev. Barbara Heck of Rutgers’ protestant campus ministries.
Rev. Kevin E. Taylor of Unity Fellowship Church in New Brunswick, asked those in the audience to look into the faces of those around them and remember that "we are human beings."
Some students, however, remain worried.
"Under this bullying, there’s homophobia, there’s hate," said Paul Zilber, a freshman from North Brunswick. "It’s shut down mode (here). People are afraid this can happen again. That’s my worst fear."
When tonight’s vigil ended, about 50 minutes after it began, students made their way back to their dorms.
"This is big and bad," said Taylor, who is also a Rutgers chaplain. "But this university is better than this."
Earlier in the day, about 600 people marched through New Brunswick’s Buccleuch Park in the seventh annual "Out of the Darkness Community Walk," sponsored by the Central Jersey Chapter of the American Federation for Suicide Prevention. Organizers of the previously-scheduled march said it was a coincidence it took place the same day as the Rutgers vigil.
"Obviously it’s on a lot of people’s minds," said Jennilee Bulkley, the federation’s New Jersey area director. "I do think that it brings suicide into the light and it brings it into the forefornt of our lilves and it brings out the need to get the word out."
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