In August 2010, a bright and creative student named Tyler Clementi joined the Rutgers University freshman class. The summer had marked the beginning of an important journey for Tyler, as he began coming out to close friends and family — a challenging and vulnerable experience for many students. Shortly after move-in, Tyler’s roommate began to ridicule and mock him on social media simply because of his sexual orientation. Following an egregious act of cyber-harassment and malicious invasion of privacy, Tyler died by suicide — less than one month into the academic year.
Tyler’s story demonstrates the aggregate impact of stigma, bias and peer aggression. In 2013, the Tyler Clementi Foundation and Rutgers University established a research center to address the unique issues that impacted Tyler and the many students who experience bias and peer aggression within higher education. Through collaboration with leading-edge research centers and scholars, the Tyler Clementi Center examines the impact of bias and peer aggression on students and develop practical tools and resources to assist institutions in creating an affirming campus climate for all students.