Editorial: College campuses have no room for harassment

Editorial Staff

A young college freshman attending Rutgers University in New Jersey walked across the George Washington Bridge and jumped to his death into the Hudson River on Sept. 22, 2010.HarassmentAtAGlance

Three nights before, Tyler Clementi’s roommate, Dharun Ravi, remotely accessed his laptop and broadcasted a brief webcam feed of Clementi and a male friend becoming intimate in their dorm room. Ravi took to Twitter to advertise the video and word quickly made its way back to Clementi, who found himself at the center of a sick and senseless joke.

Clementi, a member of the Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra, was 18 years old when he decided to take his life.

In honor of the freshman’s memory, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act in 2010, and for the third year in a row the bill waits for approval on the floor of the House of Representatives.

This legislation would require higher education institutions that receive federal aid to institute and adhere to policies that prohibit harassment of any kind, be it based on sexual preference, gender, race, religion or creed, according to the Human Rights Campaign website.

This bill not only discourages harassment on college and university campuses, but also offers incentives to institutions that strive to address these issues.

The legislation “authorizes the Secretary of Education to award competitive grants to Institutions of Higher Education to initiate, expand, or improve programs to prevent the harassment of students, provide counseling … , and train students, faculty, or staff to prevent harassment or address harassment if it occurs,” according to the United States Legislative Information website.

The United States government needed law to abolish slavery. It needed law to ensure women had the right to vote, and it may now need a law that battles discriimination on campus

Dozens of organizations, such as the Anti-Defamation League and the American Association for University Women, have lined up in support of the bill, according to the Human Rights Campaign website.

One of the most predominant instances of harassment on college campuses is towards women. In 2006 the American Association of University Women conducted a statewide study and found that “62 percent of female college students report having been sexually harassed at their university with 80 percent of the reported harassment being peer-to-peer.”

These are frightening statistics for an unacceptable situation, much like the abundance of rape jokes in both entertainment and social media. It takes a special kind of coward to harass and abuse a woman.

On the smallest level, human biochemical individuality, or genetic differences between family, friends, strangers, bullies and victims, is approximately 0.1 percent, according to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History website.

This means that at the most, the bully is, genetically, 99.9 percent the same person as the bullied.

We are all similar in this manner. We seek happiness and love. We strive for victory and success. We take to pleasure and battle pain. We cultivate and share our dreams, our goals and our lives.

On this, the most basic of levels, the color of your skin, how you dress, who you sleep with, where you come from or what you believe in, is of no importance.

The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act plans to use education as a preventative measure against harassment and bullying. If it is defeated once again it is up to college students all across the nation to take the first of many steps towards turning their campuses into harassment-free environments.

The sooner we all realize that this life is and always will be shared, the better off our future will be.