By Alexi Knock
On September 22, Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge days after being broadcasted live over the Internet during an intimate moment by his roommate's webcam. In an attempt to further my knowledge of this recent tragedy, I thought it might be interesting to read articles written in the Rutgers' student newspaper, The Daily Targum. I figured I would gain perspective of the young people who were closest - both physically and emotionally - to Clementi. What I found in The Daily Targum, however, left me much more disgusted than comforted.
The editorial article published on October 5 entitled, "Media Exploits University Tragedy," was one of the most shocking student pieces I have ever read. The author? Simply, "The Daily Targum."
Presumably written as a collaborative effort of the student editors at The Daily Targum, the only portion of the article I can agree with is the headline. The media has, in fact been covering this issue intensively. The remainder of the Targum piece, however, seems to be an attack on those who have taken Clementi's death and turned it into a cause for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Questioning (LGBTQ) community.
The piece states, "people's relentless agendas took his death and turned it into a cause based on false pretenses." The authors felt that the people who laid outside Rutgers' student center in order to support ‘safe spaces' for homosexuals were trying to push their own agendas for gay rights through the boy's death. They even went on to describe the gathering of activists as an "angry mob." Describing those people as such can be likened to saying that those who participated in the Hofstra Pride Network's peaceful October 5 candlelight vigil were an angry mob.
The authors felt that the focus of Clementi's suicide should have been merely a "boy's inability to deal with the hardships of life." Regardless of Clementi's sexual orientation, to reduce his death - as well as the suicide of any person - to something that insignificant is unthinkable. Even The Daily Targum's use of the word "boy" undermines Clementi as a person not yet mature enough to deal with his emotions. Is unknowingly being recorded by a classmate during an intimate moment one of the normal "hardships of life" everyone should have to go through?
Clementi has become a figure of the unfair treatment endured by the LGBTQ community, as well as anyone who has been a victim of bullying. It is horrible that a young man had to die in order for this problem to be heard by the masses. The editorial states that "we did not know Clementi" and that is exactly the reason why the authors should not attempt to evaluate his death to the degree they did.
Although these students had every right to voice their opinion, it is sad that they are seeing the entire tragedy in such a skewed light. Their attempt to maintain a reputation as a safe school backfires and further proves that it may be some of the students at Rutgers University specifically that are partially at fault for Clementi's death.
As a fellow student journalist, I am ashamed of the editorial staff behind the article. The authors call for a proper mourning of Clementi, however, their editorial is not the way to go about that. One of the many issues that came out of this recent tragedy is the effect of cyber-bullying, and I feel that The Daily Targum's article contributes to that problem.