Last night, a few hundred students and community members gathered on Rutgers' campus for a silent vigil in honor of student Tyler Clementi, who killed himself after his roommate Dharun Ravi allegedly shared webcab footage of him engaged in a sexual encounter. Though a few officials addressed the crowd, most stayed silent, holding candles and hoping that the incident will inspire students facing similar harassment to seek help. Jenny Kurtz, the leader of the school's LGBT groups, told the crowd, "Tonight begins the process of healing."
Clementi's death happened just days before the university began their "Project Civility" project, which seeks to foster a universitywide conversation on equality, respect and diversity. Now, officials say that message is more important than ever. Rev. Barbara Heck of Rutgers’ protestant campus ministries said, "The law is to love one another." However, freshman Paul Zilber admitted he is worried. "Under this bullying, there’s homophobia, there’s hate. It’s shut down mode (here). People are afraid this can happen again. That’s my worst fear."
Meanwhile, investigators continue to consider the motives behind the Internet transmission. Dharun Ravi claims the first time was an accident—that he went to hang out in friend Molly Wei's room and checked his iChat on her computer, which remotely turned on his webcam, transmitting the video of Clementi sexually engaged with another man briefly over the Internet. However, he then updated his Twitter account, saying, "Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay." Two days later, he wrote, "Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes, it's happening again," suggesting he was planning a more widespread transmission.
Ravi and Wei have both been charged with multiple counts of invasion of privacy, but Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan said, "We will be making every effort to assess whether bias played a role in the incident, and, if so, we will bring appropriate charges." Further evidence shows that the transmission was not a prank between friends, as Clementi wrote on a message board at justusboys.com that he was seeing a room change from his RA.
At a vigil in Washington Square Park last night, Governor Paterson and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn vowed to pass new legislation against cyberbullying. Paterson told the crowd, "I know how it is, as do so many of you, to be singled out for persecution for nothing more than being who you were born as," and Quinn said the vigils would "send a message to those ignorant individuals that they're not in the mainstream."