Almost two weeks after Tyler Clementi, 18, killed himself by diving into New York’s Hudson River, hundreds of New Jersey students and activists gathered at Rutgers University to honor the life of a college freshman called a “fine musician” by his family.
“Tonight begins the process of healing,” Jenny Kurtz, acting director of the school’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations, told nearly 1,000 people who’d gathered.
The teen gave notice of his intention on his Facebook page by posting: “Jumping off the bridge sorry.” Though his body has not been recovered, authorities found his wallet, including his driver’s license and freshman ID card near the bridge.
Police believe Clementi committed suicide after fellow Rutgers students Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei streamed online video of his romantic encounter with another man. His death has since spawned widespread discussion about homophobia, gay rights and bullying.
After about 30 minutes of silence, several school officials and activists spoke about acceptance and tolerance. The vigil was the largest campus demonstration to date and also served as the launch of Rutgers’ “Project Civility” initiative, which will spark conversation about respecting others.