TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – An effort to stop bullying on college campuses nationwide is back on Capitol Hill for debate in the new Congress.
The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act would require all colleges and universities that receive federal student aid to have in place anti-harassment policies, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported.
“We are having now a conversation that we as a nation have needed for a long time,” said Rep. Rush Holt.
Holt reintroduced the measure last week after it failed to pass in the last Congress. The same measure was also introduced in the senate by New Jersey’s senior senator Frank Lautenberg.
“The tragic impact of bullying on college campuses has damaged too many young adults, and it is time for our colleges to put policies on the books that would protect students from harassment,” Lautenberg said in a news release. “While there is no way to eliminate the cruelty that some students choose to inflict on their peers, there should be a clear code of conduct that prohibits harassment. It is vitally important that all students have the opportunity to learn in a safe and secure environment.”
Holt said the measure would be an important step in combatting bullying, but admitted that the issue won’t be totally solved.
“But as Martin Luther King said, ‘perhaps you can’t through legislation change the heart, but you can restrain the heartless,'” Holt said.
The bill is named after Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, 18, who jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge in September 2010 after his roommate videotaped his sexual encounter with another man.
Clementi’s roommate at the time, Dharun Ravi, served less than a month in jail after he was convicted last year of 15 criminal counts, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation. He is appealing his conviction.
The congressman said Clementi’s suicide following cyberbullying was a painful lesson.
“But I think a lot of good is coming out of this,” said Holt.
The bill would make grants available to help institutions expose cyberbullying and take measures to stop it.
Also last week, Clementi’s parents were on hand as Rutgers dedicated the Tyler Clementi Center. The center will offer lectures, symposia, and seminars on topics relating to cyberbullying.
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