In the fall of 2010, a young man named Tyler Clementi began his freshman year at Rutgers University in New Jersey. A couple of weeks into the school year, Clementi’s roommate set up a webcam to surreptitiously broadcast an intimate encounter between Clementi and another man.
Clementi, a gifted musician, learned about what had happened and saw in his roommate’s Twitter feed that he was planning to do it again. A few days later, Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge.Clementi’s roommate was prosecuted under then-existing New Jersey law, and I wrote about the case briefly in Cybertraps for the Young. Following the publication of my book, Clementi’s roommate was convicted on fifteen charges of invasion of privacy, hindering apprehension, witness tampering, and bias intimidation.
On May 21, 2012, Clementi’s roommate was sentenced to 30 days in jail, 3 years probation, 300 hours of community service, a $10,000 fine, and counseling on cyberbullying and alternate lifestyles. He served 20 days of his sentence, with 10 days off for good behavior and work credits.
In the wake of Clementi’s death, his parents Jane and Joseph Clementi established a foundation in their son’s name — The Tyler Clementi Foundation — to “promote safe, inclusive and respectful social environments in homes, schools, campuses, churches and the digital world for vulnerable youth, LGBT youth and their allies.”
To help further the work of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, New York Law School hosted a conference this past weekend that brought together “policy makers, political and business leaders, attorneys, social scientists, academics, teachers, students, and nonprofit advocates, all focused on the conference’s theme: combatting cyberharassment in all its forms.” A great deal of credit should be given to New York Law School Associate Professor Ari Waldman, the Director of the school’s Innovation Center for Law and Technology, for putting together such a terrific program.
One of the most powerful moments was listening to Clementi’s parents talk about the impact of their son’s death on their family, friends, and community. It is a painful reminder of the potential for any bullying, cyber- or otherwise, to have effects that ripple far beyond the intended victim. Everyone in attendance was moved by the courage of the Clementis and inspired by their determination to turn their personal tragedy into a positive force in the battle against cyberbullying and cyberharassment.
Here’s a run-down of the panels at the conference (a copy of the actual program with speaker bios is embedded below). Across the board, the presentations were interesting, informative, and provocative.
October 3, 2015
Panel One: The Role of Industry
- Ann Bartow, Professor at the University of New Hampshire Law School and Director of the Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property
- Jacqueline F. Beauchere, Chief Online Safety Officer for Microsoft, Inc. [click here for the Microsoft Online Safety portal]
- Frank Pasquale, Professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
Panel Two: The Experience of Cyberharrassment
- Kate Bertash, the founder and creator of Undox.me
- Jane Clementi, co-founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation
- Joseph Clementi, co-founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation
- Holly Jacobs, the founder, President, and Executive Director of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative
- Arthur Leonard, Professor at New York Law School
- The Honorable Kathleen Rice (D-NY)
Panel Three: The Role of the Attorney: Representing Victims of Cyberharassment
- Elisa D’Amico, a partner in the Miami office of K&L Gates
- Carrie Goldberg, the founding attorney at C.A. Goldberg, PLLC
- Lawrence Newman, Chief of the Domestic Violence Unit at the New York District Attorney’s Office.
- Ari Waldman, Associate Professor and Director of the Innovation Center for Law and Technology at New York Law School
October 4, 2015
Panel Four: The Role of the School: Creating Safe Learning Environments
- David Bryant, Office of Student Support Services/Academic Intervention Services for the New York Department of Education
- Nancy Gifford, Senior Policy Director of Law and Policy at iKeepSafe
- Mark L. Hatzenbuehler, Assistant Professor of Sociomedical Sciences and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Social Inequalities and Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health
- Lois Herrera, Chief Executive Officer for the Office of Safety and Youth Development (OSYD) at the New York State Department of Education
- Cynthia Lawson, producer and writer of the feature documentary film Bully
- Danielle Citron, The Lois K. Macht Research Professor and Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, and the author of the recently-published Hate Crimes in Cyberspace
- Steven M. Freeman, Legal Affairs Director at the Anti-Defamation League and Associate Director of ADL’s Civil Rights Division
- Remington Gregg, Legislative Counsel for the Human Rights Campaign
- Kathleen McGee, Bureau Chief for the Internet Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s Office
- Scott Skinner Thompson, Acting Assistant Professor of Lawyering at New York University School of Law
- The Honorable Mark Pocan (D-WI)