Rutgers Student Suicide after Live Stream of Sexual Encounter

Liz De La Torre

On September 22, 18 year-old Rutgers freshman, Tyler Clementi, jumped off the George Washington Bridge. A few days and countless Google results later, Clementi’s

Rutgers freshman, Tyler Clementi who jumped off the George Washington Bridge.

suicide sparked national outrage and brought to light once again the issue of bullying.

Just three days before, Dharun Ravi, his roommate, streamed Clementi’s sexual encounter with another man online by turning on his webcam from friend Molly Wei’s room. He tweeted, “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.” A post on, a gay men’s website, on September 21 indicates that Clementi, known as cit2mo on the thread, was on to his roommate by this time and turned to members of the site to find out what to do. Later on that night, Clementi had asked for the room for a few hours which prompted Ravi to try to host another viewing. He tweeted, “Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes it’s happening again.” On the morning of September 22, Clementi posted on the same forum that he had informed his RA and seemed to be fine, but he also posted “jumping off the gw bridge sorry” on Facebook through his cellphone. He then leapt to his death.

 Currently, both Dharun Ravi and his accomplice, Molly Wei, are charged with two counts of criminal invasion of privacy. If convicted, they can be sentenced for up to five years in jail and may face a $30,000 fine. Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan has said that there is a continuous investigation in whether there will be more charges against Ravi and Wei. If there is evidence that either of them was trying to incite discrimination or harassment against Clementi because of his orientation, bias or hate crime charges may be brought against them, according to a spokesperson for Kaplan. After several complaints about how Rutgers has handled the entire situation stemming from the initial grievance for Clementi, authorities have been prompted to subpoena the University for E-mails.

Celebrities, gay and straight alike, have been speaking out against bullying. Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres recently issued a video in which she cited gay teen suicide as an “epidemic,” but assured audiences that hope should outweigh fear in the wait for change, however gradual: “Things will get easier. People’s minds will change, and you should be alive to see it.”

An accomplished violinist and a bright student, Clementi was praised by students, teachers, and friends. Edward Schmiedecke, former supervisor of Ridgewood School’s music, art, and dance programs, had nothing but admiration for Clementi: “There are certain students, as they leave, you go, oh, that young man is going to be successful at whatever he does. That was him. He certainly was well on his way. He had an ability, a talent and a focus.”