Approximately two years ago, Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi leaped to his death after discovering his roommate used a webcam to spy a sexual encounter the freshman had with another man.
Since then the US northeastern university has worked overtime to make sure its LGBT students find a supportive environment.
From increased housing options to Jenny Kurtz, the leader of Rutgers Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities, the school’s environment is not what it was two years ago. An article in yesterday’s (21 September) New York Times chronicles how the school has changed.
There has been a monetary investment (the center’s discretionary budget has increased by $29,500 since 2010), and a campus wide willingness to work with students. The article has a story about transgender student Nick Margolies, a freshman in 2011. He was worried he wouldn’t be allowed on campus, but his proper name was on his dorm door, and professors did not trip over pronouns.
‘Boom,’ Margolies said to the newspaper. ‘Mind blown.’
The article points out this ‘new’ university is part of the changing landscape in the US. Two year’s ago the military policy of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was still in place. President Barack Obama had not yet announced his stance on gay marriage.
Of course, no place is perfect, and homophobic slurs can still be heard. Leonard Haas, a member of the gay fraternity Delta Lambda Phi, was walking on a street near the university. He was holding the hand of another man. An anti-gay taunt was thrown their way. For Hass the words were disconnected to his experience as a college student.
‘I’m happy,’ Hass said to the paper, ‘I’m in a good place, it doesn’t matter.’