In 2010, Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University, took his own life after his roommate and another student invaded his privacy and harassed him over the Internet. He was eighteen-years-old.
Tyler is one of thousands of college students who are harassed on campus and over the Internet each year. A 2011 study from the University of Indiana found 22 percent of college students have faced cyberbulling and 15 percent of college students reported being victims of traditional bullying. Further, LGBT students are nearly twice as likely as their peers to experience harassment. We know that students who face bullying and harassment are at higher risk of depression, physical ailments, substance abuse, and decreased academic performance; in higher education settings, these effects may be exacerbated as the victims are in a new environment separated from family and friends.
Currently, there is no requirement that colleges and universities establish policies to protect their students and employees from harassment; nor is there federal aid dedicated to enact programs to prevent and reduce harassment against students. The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act requires colleges and universities to prohibit harassment and establishes within the Department of Education a grant program to support campus anti-harassment programs.
Specifically, the bill:
Requires colleges and universities receiving federal aid to establish an anti-harassment policy prohibiting the harassment of enrolled students based on their actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion.
Requires colleges to distribute their anti-harassment policy to all students and employees, including prospective students and employees, upon request.
Recognizes “cyberbullying,” which includes harassment undertaken through electronic messaging services, commercial mobile services, and other electronic communications.
Authorizes a competitive grant program for institutions of higher education to initiate, expand, or improve programs to: (a) prevent the harassment of students; (b) provide counseling or redress services to students who have been harassed or accused of subjecting other students to harassment; and (c) train students, faculty, or staff to prevent harassment or address harassment if it occurs.