July 18, 2019 | 72° F

EDITORIAL: PSE&G helps give more than electricity

Rutgers pairs with energy company on program for LGBT youth


In a time where the differences of others are being condemned rather than celebrated, Rutgers and the Public Service Enterprise Group (PSE&G) seem to be shining a hopeful light. The energy services company has teamed up with the University’s Tyler Clementi Center to create an “LGBT Youth Empowerment Initiative.” This daylong event, targeted at high school students, is offered at the University because of a $10,000 grant offered by PSE&G. Most people would wonder why Rutgers would offer a program to high school students, but Rutgers is doing more than merely advertising itself as a university. The University is opening the conversation to larger issues in America and providing a way for young adults to transition into another stage of their lives.

"The LGBT Youth Empowerment Initiative," which hosts workshops that focus on leadership, pre-college preparation and opportunities for LGBT youth, may seem like a fun and lighthearted way for LGBT youth to find a supportive community, but it is much more multifaceted than this. This initiative is larger than many people think. The Tyler Clementi Center at Rutgers was named after former Rutgers student Tyler Clementi. Clementi was an 18-year-old, first-year student who died by suicide after jumping off of the George Washington Bridge. His suicide was prompted by his roommate’s live broadcast of Clementi engaging in sexual relations with another man. The video was put on the internet, along with tweets where Clementi’s roommate, Dharun Ravi, posted updates about secretly viewing Clementi through a webcam in another friend’s room. The Tyler Clementi Center was created not only to show grievance for the horrible situation that lead to Clementi’s suicide, but also to uphold the values of inclusiveness Rutgers promotes. This initiative, hosted in part by the Tyler Clementi Center, shows the University's dedication to ensuring that no matter what, the feelings of those who may feel stigmatized, are important.

Rutgers is a university where minority groups are celebrated and resources are always available to them. The University is usually regarded as a place where people of different races, genders and sexualities are welcomed. In fact, Rutgers is home to several social and social action groups for LGBT students. This is why the "LGBT Youth Empowerment Initiative" is focused on high school students rather than college students. While there are a lot of options for LGBT college students to find means of support, the same cannot necessarily be said for high school students.

Eighty-two percent of LGBT students have experienced bullying in school due to their sexual orientation. Sixty-four percent of LGBT students actually feel unsafe in their school. In fact, 32 percent of LGBT students felt so unsafe in their schools that they did not go to school for at least one day. The statistics are all there, but it is all about what you choose to do with them, and Rutgers and PSE&G are choosing to take action.

Transitioning from high school to college is not always easy. Whether you live in a residence hall or commute to school, learning to feel at home in the place you attend classes is essential to your college experience. This can be difficult when you identify with a group that is not well-represented around you. A $10,000 grant seems like a small price to pay for the potential to help students feel safer and more connected to the people around them, especially when these connections lead to bigger opportunities that many would not have otherwise known, and that is priceless.

The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 148th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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