By GEOFF MULVIHILL
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The parents of a Rutgers University student who committed suicide last year returned to the school Monday for an academic symposium on the benefits and perils of social media for teens and young adults.
It was the first time Joseph and Jane Clementi visited Rutgers’ main campus since last year when their son, 18-year-old freshman Tyler Clementi, killed himself days after his roommate allegedly used a webcam to spy on his intimate encounter with another man. The tragedy touched off a national conversation on the bullying often faced by young gays and lesbians.
Joseph Clementi, with his wife standing by his side, opened the conference with a two-minute statement. He identified himself and his wife as the “proud parents of Tyler Clementi.”
“The nationwide outpouring of compassion from a wide range of people and organizations has been truly humbling and comforting,” he said.
He said The Tyler Clementi Foundation, a co-sponsor of the symposium along with Rutgers, would do more work to research and try to prevent cyberbullying and victimization based on sexual orientation, looks or other characteristics.
He also applauded the university for developing the symposium.
The family has filed legal papers to preserve their right to sue the school, but has not yet sued and it’s not clear whether they will.
The case also is moving through the criminal courts.
Tyler Clementi’s roommate, 19-year-old Dharun Ravi, is charged with 15 criminal counts, including invasion of privacy and the hate crime invasion of privacy. He could face 10 years in prison. A trial is scheduled for February.