By Ashley Fincher, Staff Writer
As college students we tend to think that bullying is a thing of the past. When we picture bullying we picture a little child getting their lunch money stolen or two children calling each other names. However, we need to realize that bullying can take place at any age even among college students. In fact, recent surveys have revealed that 82 percent of college students reported that they have witnessed bullying whether it is cyber bullying or direct bullying.
For example, according to an Associated Press story edited by CBS, Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University, jumped off of the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22, after his roommate and another friend secretly recorded him having a sexual encounter with another male and broadcasted it over the internet. The two students that were involved with the recording have been charged with invasion of privacy.
In an effort to prevent this from happening at other institutions, Russlynn Ali, the assistant secretary for civil rights sent an eight-page letter to thousands of schools across the country stressing the importance of providing a safe learning environment for all of its students. Ali emphasized also that bullying may violate one or more federal antidiscrimination laws enforced by the U.S. Department’s Office for Civil Rights, namely Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“I don’t want to believe that what happened to students on other campuses could happen here,” said Lynne Grady, director of counseling and psychological services.
“It’s critical that we not remain silent when we witness injustice, and that we truly care about one other. The CAPS Center is a strong advocate for all our students and available 24/7. If you or anyone you know needs a safe, secure, confidential place to go, make the call.”
Tyler Clementi’s death was a tragic result of cyber bullying, but unfortunately his story is only one of thousands of young people that have taken their own life as a result of bullying or harassment. This horrific outcome should serve as a reminder for us to respect each other and any and all of our differences.
“We should all keep in mind that no student should be made to feel unsafe, especially on our campus. This is a place for intellectual, emotional and spiritual growth that will not be impeded by intolerance, fear or ignorance of any kind, regardless of the circumstances,” said Grady.
“It is also crucial that we realize harassment and intolerance is not only directed at gay kids. It happens to anyone who is perceived as ‘different,’ and as we remember those we’ve lost, think about those who live with the torment of being bullied and harassed every day. Think about how we contribute to the problem by either participating or saying nothing.”
Grady suggests that we all challenge ourselves each day to think about our actions, our language and how they affect others. Put yourself in the shoes of those who are ‘different’ from you. If you are comfortable and secure in who you are, then stand up for others when you see injustice, and if you are a student that is being bullied or harassed please don’t continue to let it happen.
Along with changing our own perspectives, we should also encourage those that are faced with bullying or harrassment, whether physical, verbal or online, to report the incident. In addition to stalking, bullying in all forms tends to be among the many under-reported crimes on college campuses. Young Harris College does have a policy on harassment for verbal, physical and electronic harassment. These behaviors will not be tolerated.
Any student that is experiencing bullying or harassment should report to either the C.A.P.S. Center in the ground floor of Appleby Center, across from the nurse’s office, the Young Harris College Police Department in the common room of Manget Hall or to the Office of Student Development.