Should colleges be required to prohibit bullying and harassment? You should read and cite the following articles by Holt and Lukianoff if you choose this topic. Pro position: Rep. Rush Holt, D-N. J. , Written for CQ Researcher, November 2010 Parents send their children to college to learn, but the sad reality is that bullying and harassment affect millions of students on college campuses. It is unclear how widespread it is, but we know that harassment is happening based on race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion. It happens face-to-face, via e-mail, and on the Internet.
Last September, Tyler Clementi, a talented freshman at Rutgers, committed suicide after two fellow students allegedly used a webcam to secretly watch him in a sexual encounter with another student. In the wake of Tyler’s suicide, his parents issued a statement saying, “Our hope is that our family’s personal tragedy will serve as a call for compassion, empathy and human dignity. ” To help colleges and universities implement or strengthen their existing anti-harassment and anti-bullying programs, I joined Sen. Frank Lautenberg in introducing the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act.
The bill would require colleges and universities that receive federal student aid to have a clear code of conduct prohibiting the harassment of enrolled students based on their actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion. Our legislation would recognize, for the first time, cyberbullying as a form of harassment at institutions of higher education. Colleges would need to distribute their anti-harassment policy to all students, including instruction on what students and administrators should do if an incident of harassment occurs.
This would not be the heavy hand of the government telling students how to behave or restricting their speech. Rather, it would require that colleges publicly recognize that bullying is a real problem and have a policy to deal with it. The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act complements other pending legislation in Congress, which I support. The Safe Schools Improvement Act would provide grants to states to collect and report information about bullying and act to prevent and respond to incidents of bullying and harassment.
Another, the Student Non-Discrimination Act, would bar discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students in elementary and secondary schools. We cannot expect to completely eradicate bullying and harassment from our campuses, yet we should ask colleges and universities to set a standard to be not only places of learning, but also — in the words of Tyler’s parents — places of “compassion, empathy, and human dignity. ” This will help students learn not only engineering, languages, accounting, or whatever their academic pursuits, but also learn how to get along in a diverse, interconnected society.
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