Rutgers University in New Jersey has dedicated its new Tyler Clementi Center, which will serve as a research hub for studying the needs of youth during tough transitions. It bears the name of a former student who committed suicide in 2010 after his roommate cyberbullied him.
Tyler Clementi’s story received world-wide attention. A gifted young man who had just come out to his family before leaving for college, he was not yet entirely comfortable with being an openly gay man. He killed himself after learning his roommate used a webcam to record an intimate encounter Clementi had with another man. Clementi’s suicide brought much attention to the issues of cyberbullying, suicide prevention, and the needs of LGBT youth on college campuses.
The new center was founded in collaboration with the Tyler Clementi Foundation, which is run by his family.
During the dedication ceremony, his father, Joe Clementi, said that this is a way of creating a new legacy for his son.
“We’re committed not just to raising awareness around the issues that impacted Tyler, but also to creating solutions to those issues,” Joe Clementi said.
The new, multidisciplinary center will draw on existing university resources to create a research hub; to bring the latest information together in one place; and to get it into the hands of those who work with adolescents, said Richard Edwards of Rutgers University.
“Our purpose is to draw upon the best academic minds in relevant fields from around the world, and then make the knowledge they create useful to practitioners, whether in student affairs, counseling, or any of the areas that connect to young people in our classrooms and in our communities,” Edwards said.
The director of the Tyler Clementi Center is Jeffrey Longhofer, an associate professor of social work at Rutgers University. He says the center is already getting to work. Its first conference, set for April, will focus on the needs of transgendered students.