Tyler Clementi was a creative, thoughtful and adventurous young man, who was loved greatly by his family. He was a gifted musician, who was very excited about his freshman year of college. As a first-year student at Rutgers University in Fall 2010, Tyler set to work growing his musicianship through participation in an orchestra typically reserved for advanced undergraduate and graduate students. He was committed to strengthening his sense of self as a whole person, as he had spent the summer prior to his freshman year sharing with certain family members that he was gay and planning to live an authentic life.
That September, Tyler asked his roommate for privacy to host a date. His roommate obliged in word, but without Tyler’s knowledge or consent, he livestreamed Tyler’s time with his date, violating Tyler and his date’s privacy, autonomy, and trust. The roommate, and those who watched online, mocked, ridiculed, and harassed Tyler online and via social media because of his sexuality. Tyler learned of this betrayal via social media. A few days later, Tyler died by suicide.
Tyler’s death sparked local and national conversations about sexuality, cyber-harassment, safety, and inclusion within and beyond college campuses. To learn more about Tyler’s Story, please visit the website of the Tyler Clementi Foundation a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to end online and offline bullying, harassment, and humiliation.
Tyler Clementi Center Background
In 2013, Rutgers University--New Brunswick launched the Tyler Clementi Center as an externally facing center that engaged scholars, practitioners and thought leaders to bolster academic research and create tools that could be used by educational institutions to ensure every student has an affirming college experience. In 2017, the Tyler Clementi Center partnered with the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University, the Higher Education Research Institute at University of California-Los Angeles, the SERU-AAU Consortium led by University of California-Berkeley and University of Minnesota, the American College Health Association, and Rankin & Associates on a study of queer-spectrum and trans-spectrum student experiences in higher education. Read the white paper here. Through dissemination of original research, the Tyler Clementi Center examined the impact of bias, peer aggression, and campus climate on postsecondary students who experience marginalization or stigma related to their sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion/faith, and/or ability among other stigmatized identities/experiences.
Envisioning Our Future
We are continuing the research focus of the Tyler Clementi Center through the development of the Tyler Clementi Research Fellowship led by Dr. Jeffrey Longhofer, Associate Professor of Social Work. This fellowship is focused on supporting the creation and dissemination of knowledge focused on LGBTQIA youth with an emphasis on the translation of scholarship for use by practitioners (teachers, social workers, college administrators) and families. We will host a bi-annual symposium focused on LGBTQIA bias, campus climate, and mental health that aims to bring researchers, practitioners, and the broader Rutgers community together to learn about research based interventions to interrupt pressing campus climate challenges. September 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of Tyler’s death, please save the date for the first symposium in this series, September 30, 2020. Plan to join us as we revisit and reinvest in the TCC to ensure its viability and relevance for years to come.
We are also extending the original work of the Tyler Clementi Center, which was to create tools that could be used by educational institutions to ensure every student has an affirming college experience to focus on the campus community broadly understanding that the experiences of students are shaped in large part by their experiences with faculty and staff.
Led by Dr. Joan Collier, the vision of the Tyler Clementi Center for Diversity Education and Bias Prevention is to serve as a campus resource that promotes understanding and engagement on issues related to diversity and bias prevention, increasing the capacity of the campus community to engage across differences. This unique center is dedicated to diversity education and advocacy for bias prevention. Through educational campaigns and platforms, such as symposia and colloquiums, in addition to workshops and webinars, the Center will extend the venues and targets of educational outreach. The Center will partner with the Division of Student Affairs to support the co-curricular engagement of students and will lead the development of educational initiatives targeting faculty and staff.