Rutgers Has Seriously Beefed Up LGBT Inclusion Since 2010

RutgersLGBTTyler Clementi's suicide opened the nation's eyes to homophobic bullying, but no place was deeply impacted as Rutgers University, the New Jersey institution where Clementi had just started his freshman year. Since Clementi's death, the school has vastly improved its LGBT outreach and extracurricular efforts.

According to The New York Times, Rutgers Center for Social Justice Education and L.G.B.T. Communities' budget has expanded from $45,000 the year Clementi died, 2010, to $70,000 today.

And campus participation too has become a cornerstone of the University's fight against anti-gay attitudes:

…Today, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students and their supporters can choose from four specialized housing options, three of them new, ranging from a service to pair them with like-minded roommates to Rainbow Perspectives, a floor in a residence hall organized around common interests. They can now turn for support to the 130 staff and faculty members who have been trained as official campus liaisons, or to the graduates of a new training program for “allies,” whose inaugural session is already booked to capacity. This year’s edition of a handbook that lists campus resources for “queer issues” is 92 pages long.

And this week, Campus Pride, an organization that rates schools based on the inclusiveness of their policies, upgraded Rutgers’s main campus in New Brunswick to the maximum rating, five stars. Out of the 32 possible categories in which a school can distinguish itself, Rutgers scored in 31.

Though there's no way to completely eradicate homophobia, it's clear that the inclusive culture is gaining ground, and outright anti-gay sentiments are clearly becoming less socially acceptable. "A lot of people who might be homophobic probably won’t say so because of the consequences they can see can happen," said Robert S. Goopio, president of the school's gay fraternity, Delta Lambda Phi.

Perhaps the most telling manifestation of an increasingly aware campus is the consistent run on "ally" lapel buttons being provided by the Social Justice Center. They're being snatched up faster than the school can make them.


  1. says

    Well, this is good, but the Clementi/Ravi story still leaves me unsatisfied. Ravi’s words and actions would have had little effect on Clementi had Clementi not been, as per his own parent’s admission, been brought up in an anti-gay church. and living in a country where grown adults in politics spout anti-gay bigotry to rapturous applause from their loyal lemmings.

    similarly, those factors contributed to the mindset of Ravi.

    i know there was a lot of satisfaction gained, by some people, in Ravi being punished for this. but the sad reality is the ROOT of the problem was not even remotely addressed.

    in a culture that is not overwhelmingly anti-gay Ravi’s words and actions would have been meaningless nonsense in a vacuum – the words of a no-nothing brat. the reason they carried so much impact on Clementi is because he, like all of us at some point, didn’t have the hope that being a gay man in this world culture would ever be something he could embrace and find joy in.

  2. shane says

    @LITTLEKIWI, you are correct (as often you are), the NYTimes story about his mother leaving their church substantiates that. The best we can hope for is multitudes of positive, thoughtful, uplifting role models who are gay or straight-allies to step forward daily and make the news. Cultural shifts are what is necessary, absolutely. DADT repeal is part of it, DOMA repeal is another. They are moral and inevitable. And that is what frightens those who rant here and in public.

  3. Hue-Man says

    This is good news. Culture doesn’t change by government diktat but by small incremental actions taken by individuals and organizations. Governments at all levels should do their part to ensure equality but the actions taken by Rutgers could well set a standard for other colleges.

  4. Iko says

    Having attended Rutgers in the early 2000s, I’m surprised how little is mentioned about how LGBT-friendly the school was prior to the Clementi suicide. I had a homophobic roommate my freshman year that Housing immediately transferred out of the room as soon as a complaint was made. No fuss, no muss. One one of the campuses, there was an entire dorm that was considered ultra socially liberal where it was completely cool to be trans, hippy, video gamer, nerd, jock, stoner, whatever. It was extremely welcoming to everyone that sought a place to belong.

    There were at least 3 LGBT groups on campus that I knew of and participated in. The academic departments were extremely no-nonsense when it came to LGBT being a choice or not. There was no debate and there was no “teaching the controversy.” Rutgers is a huge research school with the best Genetics program on the East Coast, so you could say they have a very well-informed position on the matter.

    I came out to quite a few of my professors and deans and it was no different than admitting I was more of a fan of hockey than football.

    The Clementi tragedy is not the story of what it’s like to be LGBT at Rutgers. It’s the story of what happens when you don’t seek help.

  5. Russell says

    Just from my perspective as an alum of RC 2010, the Clementi suicide only brought press to the moves made to the LGBTQ community at Rutgers. It didn’t take a tragedy to get more groups on campus, but it did help with the public knowledge of said groups. The fraternity was new in 2008, for one. W

  6. Ted B. (Charging Rhino) says

    What a change from when I was in College in the late-70’s. To be “outed” typically meant being expelled at-best…and forcibly “hospitalized” or arrested at-worse. Even being seriously-suspected of being gay had it’s dangers…not so-much from the students, but definitely from the school administration and the Dean of Students. And gay sex was still technically a felony, though seldom enforced. …Although you might get sent to the mental hospital for “observation” by your parents or the authorities.

    We had to sneak off to a gay disco in the next county, or the nearest gay bar an hour’s drive from campus…and you pretended to not-know anyone you saw there from school back on-campus. Things changed radically just after I graduated in the early-1980s when a new University President was installed and he forced into retirement the school’s homophobic Dean of Student.

    What a change from then to now…

  7. PaulN says

    To second Iko’s comment: I was at Rutgers a little before him and lived in the ultra-liberal dorm he describes (go Demarest!). In fact, living in that dorm was a major factor in my choosing to attend Rutgers in the first place. Yes, there were a few homophobes at the school of 35,000, but by and large the university was extremely accepting of all. We had a number of very-active LGBT organizations on campus. I’m saddened to think that this tragedy has painted Rutgers as a university that in any way tolerated discrimination or harassment. Once a friend of mine jokingly wrote in chalk under my dorm window “Blowjobs 5 cents” and it took everything in my power to convince the Residence Life staff that this was indeed _not_ a homophobic/bias incidence that required discipline, and was just a joke by my friend that I was in no way offended by.

    Y’know, except for the fact that my blowjobs are worth _at least_ a quarter.

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