NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey lawmakers are calling on Congress to pass a bill that would prohibit bullying at higher education institutions.
The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act would require colleges and universities to have anti-harassment policies in place and would apply to students, faculty and staff.
Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg and Rep. Rush Holt, authors of the bill, renewed calls for passage of the legislation after a video showing Rutgers University basketball coach Mike Rice verbally and physically abusing his players caused a public outcry.
“This incident shows us that physical and emotional abuse of college students by faculty is occurring right under our noses,” Lautenberg and Holt said in a statement.
Troy Stevenson with Garden State Equality said Rice’s firing is not enough in light of the physical and verbal abuse endured by the players.
“Go to the highest levels of the university to find out who knew about this, when they knew about it and why it wasn’t released to the public,” Stevenson told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney. “Rutgers has a duty to the state to be a leader in fighting against this bullying, harassment, intimidation. And in my opinion, they’ve abdicated in that duty.”
“I am considering holding hearings,” state Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver told Putney. “I want to know if this was reported to the Board of Governors.”
She said she may call Rutgers officials to testify at the State House.
“Because we are still all grieving over the loss of Tyler Clementi from that campus,” Oliver said.
Tyler Clementi’s parents have spoken out on the issue, saying Rutgers did the right thing by firing Rice. The Clementis also said they think the university is making strides to make the campus a safe place for all students.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” aired footage of Rice shoving, grabbing and throwing balls at players and yelling gay slurs at them during practice.
In the clips, Rice was seen heaving a basketball at a player’s head and kicking another.
Rice was fired from the university on Wednesday.
Rutgers president Robert Barchi said Rice’s “abusive language and actions are deeply offensive and egregiously violate the university’s core values.”
“Rutgers made the right decision by finally firing Mike Rice for his deplorable actions and homophobic slurs, but more needs to be done to make sure this type of abuse is stopped and a strong code of conduct protecting students from such harassment is enforced,” Lautenberg and Holt said.
Rice addressed reporters after his dismissal from his home in Little Silver, N.J.
“I can’t say anything right now except I’m sorry and there will never be a time where I’m going to use any of that as an excuse or there will be any excuse,” he 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.
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