Tyler Clementi's Death

Often enough we talk about computerized accounting as the most wonderful thing for businesses. Many people wonder how they got by without it. Using software for accounting has become so common that only a few of us have considered the disadvantages of using computers to perform accounting tasks. However, those disadvantages do exist. Accounting systems are expensive not only to purchase, but also to maintain. Software changes and there may be new versions to purchase. Operating systems also change and they can be expensive, especially for a small business.

If a computer stops working, then it needs to be fixed, incurring costs and delays in processing accounting information. When getting a new accounting system, there is always time and energy spent in training. After a system is bought, then about every year new versions are released with changes that may need some extra training getting used to. Some folks are just not "computer people" and takes them lots of time to be able to use a system. Many times pencil and paper are just faster. Computerized accounting is dependent on machines and other software to work properly.

Often enough if one thing is wrong with the computer, then there is no access to the software and work cannot be done. Then time and expense are involved in getting all the system and software up and running. But then, maybe the printer stops working. There are many inter-dependent pieces in this puzzle of a computerized accounting and reliance on it 100% of the time is not realistic. His father, Ravi Pazhani, a slight man with metal-frame glasses, sat behind him. Some way to the right of Pazhani were Joseph and Jane Clementi. Jane Clementi, who has very straight bangs, wore a gold crucifix.

She and her husband form a tall, pale, and formidable-looking couple. Their youngest son, Tyler, had died a year earlier, and the family’s tragedy was the silent focus of everyone in the room. That September, Tyler Clementi and Ravi were freshman roommates at Rutgers University, in a dormitory three miles from the courtroom. A few weeks into the semester, Ravi and another new student, Molly Wei, used a webcam to secretly watch Clementi in an embrace with a young man. Ravi gossiped about him on Twitter: “I saw him making out with a dude. Yay. ” Two days later, Ravi tried to set up another viewing.

The day after that, Clementi committed suicide by jumping from the George Washington Bridge. Clementi’s death became an international news story, fusing parental anxieties about the hidden worlds of teen-age computing, teen-age sex, and teen-age unkindness. ABC News and others reported that a sex tape had been posted on the Internet. CNN claimed that Clementi’s room had “become a prison” to him in the days before his death. Next Media Animation, the Taiwanese company that turns tabloid stories into cartoons, depicted Ravi and Wei reeling from the sight of Clementi having sex under a blanket.

Ellen DeGeneres declared that Clementi had been “outed as being gay on the Internet and he killed himself. Something must be done. ” Enraged online commentary called for life imprisonment for Ravi and Wei, and Ravi’s home address and phone number were published on Twitter. Ravi was called a tormenter and a murderer. Garden State Equality, a New Jersey gay-rights group, released a statement that read, in part, “We are sickened that anyone in our society, such as the students allegedly responsible for makingsurreptitious video, might consider destroying others’ lives as a sport.

” Governor Chris Christie, of New Jersey, said, “I don’t know how those two folks are going to sleep at night, knowing that they contributed to driving that young man to that alternative. ” Senator Frank Lautenberg and Representative Rush Holt, both from New Jersey, introduced the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act. Clementi’s story also became linked to the It Gets Better project—an online collection of video monologues expressing solidarity with unhappy or harassed gay teens.

The site was launched the day before Clementi’s death, in response to the suicide, two weeks earlier, of Billy Lucas, a fifteen-year-old from Indiana who, for years, had been called a “fag” and told vicious things, including “You don’t deserve to live. ” That October, President Barack Obama taped an It Gets Better message, referring to “several young people who were bullied and taunted for being gay, and who ultimately took their own lives. ” It became widely understood that a closeted student at Rutgers had committed suicide after video of him having sex with a man was secretly shot and

posted online. In fact, there was no posting, no observed sex, and no closet. But last spring, shortly before Molly Wei made a deal with prosecutors, Ravi was indicted on charges of invasion of privacy (sex crimes), bias intimidation (hate crimes), witness tampering, and evidence tampering. Bias intimidation is a sentence-booster that attaches itself to an underlying crime—usually, a violent one. Here the allegation, linked to snooping, is either that Ravi intended to harass Clementi because he was gay or that Clementi felt he’d been harassed for being gay.

Ravi is not charged in connection with Clementi’s death, but he faces a possible sentence of ten years in jail. As he sat in the courtroom, his chin propped awkwardly on his fist, his predicament could be seen either as a state’s admirably muscular response to the abusive treatment of a vulnerable young man or as an attempt to criminalize teen-age odiousness by using statutes aimed at people more easily recognizable as hate-mongers and perverts. Ravi had made four court appearances since his indictment. That morning’s hearing was intended to set a trial date, and to consider motions previously submitted by Steven Altman, Ravi’s lawyer.

Judge Glenn Berman announced that he was denying the defense’s request to see various documents in the possession of the state, including a handwritten document—conceivably, a suicide note—found among Clementi’s things at Rutgers. Then, over the objections of Julia McClure, an attorney in the Middlesex County prosecutor’s office, Berman confirmed an earlier ruling: the defense should privately be given the full name of Clementi’s romantic partner on the night of the alleged offenses. The man, known in the public record as M. B. , was a likely prosecution witness.

Ravi was visibly anxious when the judge addressed him. Last May, Berman reminded him, he had rejected a plea offer made by McClure. “You are presumed innocent,” he said. “But if you are found guilty, the exposure”—the sentencing potential—“is significant. ” For the charge of bias intimidation alone, the judge would be expected to sentence Ravi to between five and ten years. If Ravi accepted the plea offer, he would serve no more than five years. Berman asked Ravi if he understood. Ravi said yes, in an unexpectedly high voice, and gave a reflexive smile. He was not taking this deal.

Berman set a trial date of February 21st. The Clementis waited for Ravi and his father to leave, then walked out, hand in hand. On a Saturday night in August, 2010, a week before starting college, Dharun Ravi decided to look online for his future Rutgers roommate. He was living with his parents in Plainsboro. Ravi, who was planning to major in math and economics, had learned that he had been assigned to Davidson Hall—a collection of single-story, barracks-like dorms on Busch campus, which is considered the dullest of the four Rutgers campuses in New Brunswick and neighboring Piscataway.

He would be in Davidson Hall C, a coed dorm for about eighty students. He knew Clementi’s first name and that his last name started with C; he also knew his e-mail address, [email protected] com—apparently, a distillation of musical terms—and had e-mailed him but received no reply. Late that night, according to instant-message communications released by attorneys into the public record, Ravi Googled “keybowvio. ” This set in motion a remote, electronic dynamic between the two students that was never quite overtaken by real-world engagement—even after they moved into a tiny room together.

A little before midnight, Ravi began an I. M. exchange with Jason Tam, a high-school friend. Ravi had found some of Keybowvio’s posts on a Yahoo forum: something about fish tanks, Ravi told Tam, and something else “pertaining to violins. ” If, with “pertaining,” Ravi was aiming for sly disdain, Tam struck a different note: “I’m calling it now. This guy is retarded. ” Ravi showed Tam a link to a page on a health forum where, three years earlier, Keybowvio had asked why his asthma symptoms had suddenly worsened, noting that he had prescriptions for Advair and Singulair. Nobody had replied.

There was just Keybowvio’s follow-up: “Anyone? ” (“What a pussy,” Tam wrote. ) Ravi and Tam also found questions about anti-virus software and contributions to a Web site of counter-revolutionary peevishness called Anythingbutipod. In these old posts, at least, Keybowvio—who was indeed Tyler Clementi—seemed worried or defensive about computing. Ravi mocked his roommate for “asking if he should boot linux everytime he surfs internet. ” Just before midnight, Ravi wrote to Tam: “FUCK MY LIFE / He’s gay. ” He had found Keybowvio’s name on Justusboys, a gay-pornography site that also has discussion areas.

Ravi sent Tam a link to a page that contained sex-tinged ads but was otherwise mundane. It was a conversation, from 2006, prompted by Keybowvio’s question about a problem with his computer’s hard drive. Keybowvio noted that his electronic folders were fastidiously organized; perhaps jokingly, he added, “i have ocd. ” In the next few minutes, Ravi wrote “wtf”—“what the fuck”—seven times. He posted a link to the Justusboys page on his Twitter account: “Found out my roommate is gay. ” But when Tam asked “why do gaypornsites even have forums,” Ravi laughed—“hahaha”—and wrote, “it’s just a gay forum.

” That sounds like at least a stab at worldliness, and Ravi seems to have found it easy to drop the subject of Keybowvio’s apparent homosexuality. Two minutes after the Justusboys discovery, Ravi was making a new observation, perhaps based on Keybowvio’s worry about fixing his computer. “He’s poor,” Ravi wrote, adding a frowning emoticon. He then found Zazzle, a print-on-demand site where Keybowvio, probably years earlier, had created a T-shirt that read, “If Opposites Attract Why Isn’t Anyone Attracted to Me? ” Another said, “I Love My Mommy .

. . ” and, on the back, “Do You? ” Ravi wrote, “I feel bad for him. ” At six minutes past midnight, Tam offered Ravi a summary. The roommate was “a gay person who asks a lot of questions, is mostly techno illiterate, and makes tshirt ideas. ” Ravi replied, “I’m literally the opposite of that / FUCK. ” Tam said that if he were in Ravi’s situation he would “just die. ” Ravi said that he didn’t feel anything: “I’m just like LOL / Maybe I’m still a little buzzed. ” Tyler Clementi was not active on Facebook, and Ravi instead found the page of Tyler C.

Picone, who was about to start at Rutgers, and who described himself as gay. He was good-looking, with long wavy hair sometimes held in place with a headband; video clips indicated that he was a talented singer. Tam wrote, “wow this guy is REALLY fruity. ” Ravi said, “I’m such a thug compared to him. ” The school friends seemed slightly awed by Picone’s confidence and popularity, as well as by the attractiveness of his female friends. But they were also confused: Picone didn’t look like an anxious asthmatic who wrote self-lacerating T-shirt slogans.

Tam remembered that Ravi had met a gay student named Carter during orientation at Rutgers, and had since spoken of him admiringly. Tam wrote, “If gay people were like carter, there wouldnt b a problem with gay hatred / Its the fags like this guy that just cause all sorts of trouble. ” Ravi replied, “I know. ” And then: “He would be born in January / what a gay month. ” At about 2 A. M. , Ravi and Tam changed the subject to video games. When Ravi picked up the conversation with Tam the next afternoon, he said, “I still don’t really care, except what my parents are going to say.

My dad is going to throw him out the window. ” That day, Ravi also messaged with Bigeaglefan75—a friend, unidentified in court documents, who observed that Picone “looks like a freaking woman” and was likely to “blow you in your sleep. ” Ravi’s language was more restrained, and he replied to the oral-sex comment by saying, “I’m pretty sure he’s majoring in theater. ” At one point, Bigeaglefan75 said of the roommate, “What if he wants you / wont that get awk. ” Ravi replied, “He probs would. / Why would it be awk. / He’d want me / I wouldn’t want him.

” Bigeaglefan75 reinforced a thought from the previous night: “He’ll bring back mad hot girls to your room and then you can be like / ladies / im not gay. ” Ravi laughed and said, “I’m not really angry or sad,” adding “idc”—“I don’t care. ” But even as he struck this note of equanimity he mentioned that he had forwarded a video clip of Picone to everyone he knew. Ravi seems to have kept two ideas of Picone separate: Picone was someone he might come to like, but he was also material for a “gay roommate” news scoop. Ravi certainly appears to have cared a lot more about the reputational value of gossip than about Picone’s sexuality.

(In witness statements taken for the Clementi case, nobody has recalled Ravi being contemptuous of gay people. ) If this helps protect him from the charge of extreme prejudice, he might still be accused of lacking empathy: there’s no sign that he was inhibited by the fear that he might cause his roommate embarrassment, or annoyance, by discussing him on Facebook and Twitter. His Twitter account—@Dharun—was public and easy to find. Tyler Clementi read that first tweet about himself before he started at Rutgers. Ravi sent Tyler Picone a message, via Facebook. Picone wrote back, explaining that he was the wrong Tyler.

The same day, Ravi finally heard from Clementi, by e-mail. Clementi’s delay in contacting Ravi may have been connected to the emotional complications of his last few days at home, when he tearfully came out to his family. After receiving the message, Ravi characterized Clementi to a friend as “gay but regular gay. ” I recently met Tyler Picone in a crowded Au Bon Pain, on the Rutgers campus. Picone, who grew up in nearby South River, was charming and assured. “I ran my high school,” he said, smiling. “President of the class, editor of the paper—if you wanted to do anything, you had to go through me.

” He recalled his brief interaction with Ravi, and I showed him the I. M. s by Ravi, Tam, and Bigeaglefan75. Much of the exchange—including the bit about January’s gayness—made him laugh. When the language turned more abusive, he said, “Yikes, calm down,” and, “This is so high school. ” When he finished reading, he said, “I’ve seen so much worse. ” And he discerned a tonal difference between Ravi and his friends. “The stuff that Dharun says is understandable, in a sense. If you find you’re sharing a room with somebody gay, and you haven’t been raised in an open home, you’re going to say, ‘Oh my God, what am I going to do?

He’s probably going to want me. ’ But his friends are assholes. ” Picone imagined that, had he and Ravi become roommates, they might have become friends. But he acknowledged that to speak so generously of Ravi—to unsettle the portrait of him as the perpetrator of hate crimes—was unwelcome at Rutgers. “I wish the gay community wasn’t so angry—so angry. I’m all about forgive but don’t forget. ” He added, “Dharun didn’t want Tyler to die. ” Rather, he said, Ravi had probably wanted people to be amused by his actions—to “think of him as this bro. ”

Once Ravi understood that he would be living with Clementi, not Picone, he felt that he knew these essential facts: his roommate was gay, profoundly uncool, and not well off. If the first attribute presented both a complication and a happy chance to gossip, the second and third were perceived as failings. “I was fucking hoping for someone with a gmail but no,” Ravi wrote to Tam. Clementi’s Yahoo e-mail address symbolized a grim, dorky world, half seen, of fish tanks and violins. Ravi’s I. M. s about Tyler’s presumed poverty were far more blunt than those about sexual orientation.

At one point during his exchanges with Tam that weekend, Ravi wrote, “Dude I hate poor people. ” One evening not long ago, I visited Paul Mainardi, a lawyer with a professorial manner who lives in Philadelphia, in an apartment tower with a wide view of the Delaware River. Mainardi poured a whiskey. He is a business lawyer, not a criminal lawyer, but he is Jane Clementi’s cousin, and he has been helping her family since Tyler’s death. He has accompanied the Clementis to hearings, and issued occasional press statements. When I mentioned Ravi’s comment about “poor people,” Mainardi was a little shocked. “He said that?

” he asked. “The family is not well off, but they’re certainly not poor. ” The Clementis live in Ridgewood, sixteen miles northwest of the George Washington Bridge. The town, which is wealthy and white, was recently ranked fifteenth on a list of the top-earning towns in the country, one place below Greenwich, Connecticut. Last year, Ridgewood High School, which Tyler attended, was placed twenty-seventh in a Washington Post evaluation of New Jersey schools. (Ravi’s school was eighteenth. ) A former classmate of Clementi’s described to me a world of hyperambitious parents and a line of Lexuses in the school parking lot.

She noted the economic difference between the east and west sides of town. The Clementis live in a four-bedroom house on a pretty street, but it’s on the less affluent east side, within earshot of Route 17. At school, “west siders are more popular—they know how to get connections,” the former classmate said. “The west side dresses differently. ” Ravi drove a BMW in high school; Clementi didn’t have a car. Jane Clementi is a nurse. Joseph Clementi runs the public-works department in the nearby town of Hawthorne. They have two older sons, both of whom returned home after finishing college.

Jane Clementi is active in the local Grace Church, which is affiliated with Willow Creek, the evangelical megachurch near Chicago. Mainardi described a quiet family. “There’s no loudmouth, unlike some of my children,” he said. Tyler was the quietest of all. “I knew him, but I didn’t know him, if you know what I mean. Very shy. ” Joseph Clementi recently told me that his son was physically slight, and that if someone wanted to hurt him “he would have absolutely no idea of how to defend himself. ” Five feet six, with rigid posture, Tyler had short reddish hair, a prominent nose, and an open, earnest expression.

In his mid-teens, he had the tastes and manners of a teen-ager from an earlier era. He contributed to online discussions about musicals and opera, gardening, and the care of African dwarf frogs. His computer desktop was decorated with the Playbill covers for “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Journey’s End. ” “How should I broil Lobster Tails? ” he asked on one Web site. “Drizzling olive oil over them and rosemary? ” Tyler was close to his mother. Mainardi recalled, “I have a photograph of the two of them, where he’s standing in front of her—she’s got her arms around him, grasping his hands.

” Tyler seemed to have more female than male friends, but none of them, he thought, were “close, powerful friends. ” An acquaintance who memorialized Clementi online wrote, “Tyler never said very much or interacted with the rest of the youth group at the church I attended with him. ” This post is accompanied by a photograph of Clementi on a church outing in 2007. Sitting on a bus, he is staring at the camera; behind him, a girl is laughing and putting on lipstick. He seems out of step even with his own bright-orange T-shirt, which reads “Daytona Beach. ”

Soon after starting at Rutgers, Clementi had a late-night I. M. conversation with someone who used the name Sam Cruz. The friendship seems to have been fairly new. “I would love to have like 3 close friends,” Clementi wrote to Cruz. He said that, because he valued solitude, people “view me as always wanting to be alone,” adding, “but thats not true . . . i need some people in my life . . . just not as much as most people do. ” He went on, “I NEED conversation . . it’s just that i can’t DO it. ” Cruz tried to give advice—how to start a conversation, how to ask people about themselves.

Clementi replied, “I’ve googled it like a million times / I kno all the ‘rules. ’ ” Clementi was, in fact, a very good violin player: he played in both the Bergen Youth Orchestra and the Ridgewood Symphony, an adult orchestra. But he was uncertain if he had the talent or focus necessary for a career in music. At fifteen, he worried online about his commitment to practicing, and added that, although he had sometimes been encouraged by Juilliard alumni to apply there, he wondered if, “deeeeeeeeep down,” he really wanted to go. By his senior year, Clementi had stopped considering a music degree.

Online, he asked how to choose between Rutgers, Hartwick, and the University of Connecticut. “I don’t really have a major pinned down at all, either bio, pharm, accounting, or something,” he said. “Also toying with the idea of Community college, but the thought of getting away is very tempting too. I feel very defeated by HS and hated the whole thing. ” Paul Mainardi shared with me a memory of Tyler at a family gathering at the Clementis’, about a year before his death. “He could play the violin while riding a unicycle,” he said. “And I actually did witness that. It was quite impressive.

” As Mainardi drove home that day, he turned to his wife and said, “Wow, who would have thought that that was in Tyler? ” If Clementi had a touch of middle-aged fastidiousness, Ravi was fully a teen-ager: rangy, physical, with a taste for public regard. By the fall of 2010, when he left Plainsboro for Rutgers, he had written more than two thousand messages on Twitter, twice as many as the most active of his friends. He had posted homemade videos and hundreds of comments at Bboy, a break-dancing site. (“When i was like 8 i was trying to learn the helicopter . . . and i accidentally learned it in reverse.

”) At other sites, he posted his high S. A. T. scores, his 2. 88 G. P. A. , his long-jump record, and a photo of his fake New York driver’s license. He spoke on Twitter about being “stoned out of my mind. ” Across the Internet, Ravi’s written contributions tended to be unusually careful about grammar, and a little combative—with an element of teasing or insult and, sometimes, self-mockery. Ravi also used Formspring, a site that encourages its members to respond to questions posed by others, whose identities may be hidden. It’s a place where teen-agers show themselves able, or not, to withstand online assaults.

(Jamey Rodemeyer—a fourteen-year-old from upstate New York, who committed suicide in September, 2011, after contributing to the It Gets Better video archive—had read such Formspring comments as “I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it. ”) On Formspring, Ravi aimed for nonchalance in the face of provocation. The first, anonymous question was “Why are you a fag? ” (His answer: “Because I’m insecure. ”) The next: “Why are you such a faggot? ” (“Because it feels right! ”) Over the next few months, the questions included: “Why don’t you look at me when we make love?

” (“I like to look at myself. ”) “Do you love anyone besides yourself? ” (“Nope. ”) “I used to think you were the hottest indian guy ever . . . then i met you. ” (“I’m hot regardless of the fact that I’m an asshole. ”) “Who did you go with to prom last year? ” (“I went alone. ”) At two court hearings last fall, the rows of public benches directly behind Dharun Ravi were only half filled. But at a third hearing, in December, the same space was packed. Two dozen men in suits, most of them South Asian, arrived and left in a group; family friends, after some private debate, had decided to show support.

One member of that group, Anil Kappa, a friend of Ravi’s father, agreed to meet me at a cafe in Princeton. When he sat down, he said that his heart went out to the Clementi family. He also talked, in a soft and dismayed voice, about Ravi’s arrest and vilification: “I’m reading about him being a jerk, being a bully, being a homophobe, but as a real person who I’ve seen growing up—I can’t relate to any of these statements. ” He thought of Ravi’s actions as a “kid’s prank that went wrong,” in a culture of celebrity tweeting and “American Pie” (a comedy in which a young man sets up a secret webcam broadcast).

The judicial system had taken things too far, he said. Ravi’s family had struggled to live a normal life since the arrest, and Ravi—who is again living with his parents—had barely been able to leave the house. “He’s been incarcerated—he’s an exile,” Kappa said. “Our minds are frozen right now. ” Like Dharun’s father, Kappa is a software engineer. They met in the nineteen-nineties, when both still lived in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where they were born. Ravi Pazhani and his wife, Sabitha, a homemaker with a liberal-arts degree, were then in their twenties, and their son Dharun was a toddler.

(Following Tamil convention, Dharun has his father’s first name as his surname. ) In 1995, Kappa moved to America; two years later, he helped persuade Pazhani to do the same. The family first settled in Woodbridge, just east of New Brunswick, and Pazhani commuted to New York as a software consultant. That work continues, and Pazhani also owns, with Kappa, an information-technology company in New Jersey. Kappa described Pazhani as conservative, but couldn’t account for Dharun’s idea that his father would want to throw his gay roommate out the window. (Ravi and his parents declined to be interviewed for this article.

) Dharun’s brother, who goes by the name Jay, was born in 2002. He is the family’s sole U. S. citizen. If Dharun is convicted, he could be deported, and this has influenced his thinking about a plea deal. A few years after Jay’s birth, the family moved to Plainsboro, which has an unusually high percentage of Indian-Americans. At poolside gatherings of family friends, Ravi was often the oldest child, and Kappa recalled that he was gracious with the younger ones, “tossing them around, teaching them tricks . . . never pushing them away. ” Ravi, he added, had taught him how to rollerblade.

But, by the time Ravi was a teen-ager, he could apparently be difficult or aggressive company. When he was thirteen, he blogged about an incident in which “we gave this kid a football in the hall way and started yelling at him to go to the touchdown and score. we yelled at him for 5 minutes and he finally dropped the ball. we yelled FUMBLE. ” A young woman, Lucy Chen, recently wrote online about spending time with Ravi in 2008, at a camp in Pennsylvania run by the Center for Talented Youth. “He wasn’t openly nice to everyone, but he was nice to me,” she wrote. “Dharun and I ended up being best friends at camp.

Inseparable! ” She went on, “On the last day, all we did was hug. Well actually, I hugged him and he didn’t hug back. ” The message was written in support of Ravi, but Chen added, “I think he hacked my computer, although I have no evidence. ” Jason Tam has known Ravi since seventh grade. Now studying in New York, Tam is one of few people from high school who have kept in touch with Ravi since his arrest. Though Tam described their relationship as friendly, in a recent instant-message interview his tone was harsh. Ravi, he said, was boastful, untruthful, and obsessed with being perceived as wealthy.

Though Ravi could be “kind of funny at times,” and good company, Tam said, “he’s a dick,” adding, “I’d trust a rock more than dharun. ” Tam’s disparagement of Ravi, even as he awaits trial, raised the question of a falling out. Tam said no; like Ravi, he didn’t seem to understand the value of self-censorship. (“Dharun would be fine with anyone talking trash about him,” he said. ) But Tam’s lack of caution gives a kind of authority to his denial that Ravi was homophobic. As Tam put it, “He’s so much of a jerk that it may seem like he’s a homophobe but he’s not. ”

Molly Wei knew Ravi both from home and from Rutgers. She declined to be interviewed, but last April, in a statement to the police, she explained that, as middle-school students, she and Ravi were “not really” boyfriend and girlfriend but were “really close. ” She said, “I trusted him with a lot of things. ” By high school, however, she had come to see Ravi as slippery. She said that he claimed to have been the captain of an all-black basketball team that had won the state championship. And he told her that he was “on billboards all over India, and that he was famous in Canada for snowboarding.

” She supposed that he was trying to impress her—and she “tried explaining to him that it would be better if he didn’t try to. But I think he was really adamant about it. He was, like, ‘No, this is who I am. ’ ” Wei cut him off. During her senior year, Wei mentioned all this to Mark Lin, a mutual friend. Lin passed on what she had said, and, as Wei recalled to the police, Ravi “got really mad, because no one ever confronts him about this stuff. ” She said that Ravi called her a “lying bitch” and a “whore. ” When Wei arrived at Rutgers, with the aim of becoming a pharmacist, she was “praying to god” that she wouldn’t see him there.

On the day she moved into Davidson Hall, she saw the name “Dharun” taped to the door across the corridor, and asked herself, “Crap, how many Dharuns do I know? ” Tyler Clementi had also looked for his roommate online. That summer, he reported to a friend, “My roomates name is Dharun / I got an azn! ” Clementi’s correspondent, identified in court papers as H. Y. , is Hannah Yang, a younger friend from his high-school orchestra, who is Asian. Clementi and Ravi moved into Room 30 of Davidson Hall on Saturday, August 28th. The room was sixteen feet by eleven feet.

Clementi and his parents arrived within minutes of the official moving-in time, and after organizing Tyler’s things they left to eat. When they came back, Ravi and his family were there; Ravi was setting up his computer and, according to Joseph and Jane Clementi, he had to be nudged by his father to turn around and say hello. Clementi’s I. M. records offer a peculiarly intimate view of his first few hours with Ravi, after both sets of parents had left. As Ravi unpacked, Clementi was chatting with Yang. “I’m reading his twitter page and umm he’s sitting right next to me,” he wrote.

“I still don’t kno how to say his name. ” Yang replied, “Fail!!!!! that’s hilarious. ” Clementi told Yang that Ravi’s parents had seemed “sooo Indian first gen americanish,” adding that they “defs owna dunkin”—a Dunkin’ Donuts. Clementi and Ravi seem to have responded in similarly exaggerated ways to perceived hints of modest roots in the other. There were windows at the end of the room, and along each side wall there was a bed, a desk, a dresser, and a free-standing closet. Clementi told Yang that Ravi had moved his closet to form a semi-private changing space; Clementi called it a “cubby.

” (He later called the sight of Ravi changing “the most awk thing you’ve ever seen. ”) Thanks to Twitter, Clementi knew that Ravi had seen his Justusboys postings, and he regarded the “cubby” as Ravi’s silent response, although the two didn’t speak about Clementi’s sexuality. Clementi set his desk at the foot of his bed, so that he faced the window. Ravi, to his right, pushed his desk against the side wall, so that his back was to Clementi and his computer screen faced the room. Clementi noticed that the webcam on top of Ravi’s monitor was “pointed right at me. ” He said to Yang, “I feel like he’s watching me watching him. ”

“You should just start a conversation,” Yang wrote. “Like . . . hey, how the heck do I pronounce your name? ” Clementi said, “I actually got it down pat I think / dah rune. ” The curtains on Ravi’s side of the room were closed, and Clementi felt unable to ask his roommate to open them. Yang offered guidance: “Try hey, by any chance, would you mind opening the shades on your window? ” “That’s too funny / your giving me scripted conversations,” Clementi said. He called her “the screenplay writer for my life. ” Ravi and Clementi lived together for three weeks, but seem to have barely had a conversation. In an I. M. exchange wi