New Jersey is refusing to let bullying become a larger issue within its school boards and the state is getting involved to make sure that students feel safe from harassment. A new bill has recently been passed in New Jersey, and has been named after Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old Rutgers University student who committed suicide after being harassed online when an intimate video was secretly taken by his roommate and posted on the Internet.
The “Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act” was introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg and U.S. Representative, Rush Holt. The new legislation would require all post-secondary schools to implement anti-harassment policies and will receive federal funding to establish anti-bullying programs. The bill also requires these schools to recognize cyber bullying as a form of harassment.
“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,” said Senator Lautenberg in a recent statement.
In addition to the Anti-Harassment Act, New Jersey is also working on an “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights.” The bill, which has actually been in works for a year, would require all public school employees to receive special training in cyber bullying. The bill would also require schools to implement harsher consequences for bullies, including suspension and expulsion.
While most are applauding New Jersey for their initiative on the bullying issue, not everyone is convinced. Daniel Luzer, a writer for the Huffington Post, pointed out a few holes in the Anti-Harassment Act. The bill, he says “appears to closely mirror the existing policies in place at Rutgers, policies that didn’t help Clementi.”
In fact, Rutgers has their own, very strict policies about harassment, including prohibiting students from “making or attempting to make an audio or video recording of any person(s) on University premises in bathrooms, showers, bedrooms, or other premises where there is an expectation of privacy with respect to nudity or and/or sexual activity.”
It seems to me that Rutgers does a great job at creating these policies, but doesn’t do much to actually implement them. Hopefully now that the state is enforcing legislation, Rutgers administration might make more of an effort to put them into use.