Days After Verdict, Returning Rutgers Students Weigh In on Dharun Ravi Conviction

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rutgers University students returning from spring break Sunday had mixed reactions to the conviction of former student Dharun Ravi, who was found guilty last week of invasion of privacy and bias intimidating for using a webcam to spy on his roommate who committed suicide days later. He now faces up to 10 years in prison and possible deportation to India.

Engineering student Oluremi Kusimo, who was entering a student facility on the New Jersey campus near the dorm where Ravi and roommate Tyler Clementi lived, said Ravi "got what he deserved."

"You don't do stuff like that," Kusimo said. "You don't film someone having ...  doing whatever there is. That's their private sanctity, and yet you got in it when you weren't supposed to. And you thought it was a joke when it wasn't."

Vidhya Raghavan, a graduate student on campus, also approved of the jury's decision "because it sets an example for the future generations, that you cannot get away with such a crime. So I think somebody has to take this bold step of giving such a severe punishment."

But other students, like Jason Rivera, said that although Ravi had made a mistake, he had been "over-accused" and doesn't deserve jail time.

"I believe he suffered the consequences enough," Rivera said. "He got a lot of bad publicity and everybody seemed to hate him for a while. I think he shouldn't have to do any time. But maybe community service, at the most."

Justin Ortiz had mixed feelings, saying that Ravi "did know what he was doing" but was being victimized by the criminal justice system.

"It's a nonviolent crime," he argued, adding that "what he's going to experience in jail is going to be far worse than what he should."

(Photo: Daniel Kwerteng, standing with friend Justin Ortiz, felt the verdict was "too much," arguing "it was a mistake that any student at Rutgers could've done." Arun Venugopal/WNYC)

Ravi's sentencing is set for May 21. His lawyers have promised to appeal the verdict.


Comments [14]

LB from NJ

I do not believe any justice was served all that was accomplished was a slap on the wrist for another act of bullying. Mr. Ravi's actions resulted in the death of another person. As far as I am concerned Mr. Ravi, continues his life style and gets the opportunity to remain in this country. He is a sociopath who should stay in jail for the next 10 years. Mr. Ravi is a pathetic man who should understand the definition of discrimination. Ravi is a deviant who needed attention, I hope he gets plenty of attention on jail, maybe then he will learn the meaning of humiliation!!!

May. 21 2012 10:36 PM
Jeremyfromharlem from Austin

Had Clementi not committed suicide, but reported his roommate's behavior to the appropriate campus officials, and/or the civilian police, would Ravi have been subjected to the same possibility of punishment, if any? Would a prosecutor have taken the case to trial? Is it only bias intimidation if the victim dies? I have to think no. Even more, I wonder if there would have been the same level of attention if Clementi hadn't committed suicide in such a public, attention-drawing way. What if he'd taken an overdose in the privacy of his room?

Mar. 19 2012 03:11 PM
Judy Richheimer from Manhattan

Standing in opposition to most of my political cohort, that is, the left, I am flat-out against hate-crime legislation, which more accurately should called thought-crime legislation. It represents the removal, not the advancement, of equal protection under the law.

Imagine if Dharun Ravi's roommate were straight and, say, puritanical, or perhaps very unattractive, and famous around campus for his scruples or cosmetic shortfalls. And, as we would expect, a virgin.Then he meets a woman and, despite his principles or self-consciousness about his body, decides to pursue a physical relationship.

Ravi -- a young rat, that much is clear -- then takes the same measures to taunt the hypothetical straight roommate as he did with the one who was real and gay. Shortly afterward the straight roommate commits suicide, and authorities and the world at large draw a direct line between the young man's death and his roommate's recent bullying campaign -- as they did in real life. (I am not even going to address that, the connection between Clementi's decision to do away with himself and Ravi's obnoxious behavior, was quite murky. Remember that, upon learning that his roommate's cam was pointed in his direction, Clementi initially laughed off the matter.And that any number of conditions could have led to his complete sense of despair.)

Ravi would still have been charged with invasion of privacy and other related counts, but hate per se would not been among crimes, because unattractiveness or having a puritanical nature are not within the protected categories, and therefore Ravi's ultimate punishment would be much lighter. And yet folks who fit these discriptions are often targets for bullying. So my question is: why would the life of the young prude or the young geek be worth less than that of the young gay?

I am aware that, for decades people in the categories defined as "protected" by hate-crime legislation were regarded by certain judges as less than human, and their assailants were often let of the hook. Well, the remedy to this injustice is not more injustice; the remedy is to elect, or pressure governors to appoint, good judges. And to fight bigotry at all civic and political levels.

Mar. 19 2012 12:24 PM

You're either against the prison-industrial system or you're not. I'm sick of hypocritical leftists fighting long sentences for drug trafficking and gun crimes but then calling for decades incarceration for vaguely defined "bias crime".

Mar. 19 2012 11:39 AM
nomarr from nyc

Ravi was given two opportunities to accept plea deals. In October 2011, Ravi turned down a three-to-five-year jail sentence. In December 2011, he rejected the opportunity to avoid jail time and turned down a plea bargain of 600 community service hours and sensitivity training.

What's it going to be? convitction, imprisonment deportation or above?

Mar. 19 2012 11:26 AM
Jared from Brooklyn, NY

I think the comments by Rutgers students indicate that jail time is warranted. If its true that "it was a mistake that any student at Rutgers could've done," then some deterrence is needed. Given the high-profile nature of the case, a jail sentence will make future students think twice before attempting to humiliate someone for their own pleasure and popularity.

Mar. 19 2012 11:24 AM
Jersey Mom from Princeton, NJ

He didn't have any choices that "would not have stained his record." Molly Wei was offered those choices (and took them) but not Dharun Ravi. Dharun Ravi was offered a choice to plea to a felony (bias intimidation) in exchange for no jail time and a "recommendation" by the prosecutor that he not be deported (which means exactly zero if you know anything about it).

He felt that he was not guilt of "bias intimidation" -- a "thought crime" which even the judge was so "muddled" that it took him over an hour to explain to the jury what it even was.

That's why he went to trial.

Mar. 19 2012 11:00 AM
nomarr from nyc

Ravi had choices. What would you do if you had the option to take some community service, some psychoanalysis and have it exponged vs. trial, imprisonment & deportation?

Does not make a difference if the sentence was harsh - he knew that. That is how he played his hand and he lost. I have no pity for him, he continued to cover up his stupidity.

Mar. 19 2012 10:31 AM
Capper from NYC

I just wonder if it wasn't Ravi, might it have been something else that put Clementi over the edge. I think the entire story is sad, but there's part of me that wonders how depressed Clementi was.

Mar. 19 2012 10:26 AM
Franco from Park Slope

was this kid a jerk? you bet! but does he deserve 10 years in prison... I DON'T KNOW. Yes, he should do time for breaking the law (invasion of privacy). I'm a gay man, and I feel for Tyler Clementi and his family. Two families are now ruined.

Mar. 19 2012 10:21 AM

Why does it matter whether or not Clemente committed suicide? Many of the lessons we try to teach children are variations on 'someone could get seriously hurt'. Here is a perfect example of how bullying and teasing in all their variations can lead to ghastly consequences. Just because most victims don't kill themselves is not a reason to be lenient.

Mar. 19 2012 10:21 AM
Kevin from Queens

About the intimidation portion: is there any sense of possible lack of intimidation once Tyler invited his friend for a second visit, already knowing about the video of the first visit?

Mar. 19 2012 10:19 AM
Pritesh Desai from Jersey City, NJ


I feel this was practical joke went bad with severe punishment. I saw the images of Dharun Ravi published by NJ newspaper, the guy was shown smiling, laughing and there was no remorse in any of the photograph. That was unfairly portrayed.

I really feel at the age of 20 especailly if you are born in America kids are fairly young and immature compare to kids in Asian countries where people will have to take family responsibilities.

Really felt bad for Tyler Clementi when he lost his life. I can't pin point bud feeling bad for Ravi as well. Hope such things won't happen in future.


Mar. 19 2012 10:18 AM
nomarr from nyc

He had choices to take pleas that would not have stained his record, but his arrogance turn them down knowing the consequences of imprisonment & deportation

Mar. 19 2012 10:11 AM

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