Students, Campus React to Kavanaugh Nomination, Allegations, Investigation

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Students, Campus React to Kavanaugh Nomination, Allegations, Investigation

Students in the HUB gather on Thursday, Sept. 27 to watch the testimonies and hearings of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Students in the HUB gather on Thursday, Sept. 27 to watch the testimonies and hearings of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Rachael Franchini ’19 / The Dickinsonian

Students in the HUB gather on Thursday, Sept. 27 to watch the testimonies and hearings of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Rachael Franchini ’19 / The Dickinsonian

Rachael Franchini ’19 / The Dickinsonian

Students in the HUB gather on Thursday, Sept. 27 to watch the testimonies and hearings of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Rachael Franchini '19, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Students have tended to have strong reactions to Supreme Court appointee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, in light of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of sexual assault and testimony, as well as the investigation into those claims.

“I’m appalled by the Kavanaugh hearings and by Kavanaugh’s inappropriate, unacceptable behavior while under oath. He acted appallingly; his fury and pettiness do not belong on the Supreme Court,” stated Maia Baker ’19 of the hearing proceedings which took place on Thursday.

Groups of students were seen crowded around the television in the HUB on both Thursday, Sept. 27 and Friday, Sept. 28, watching the hearings and Senate Judiciary Committee vote, respectively. Ford, who asserted that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her during a high school party 30 years ago, is a university professor and research psychologist. According to an article published by The New York Times, she described in detail the situation of assault: “a drunken teenage Judge Kavanaugh pinned her on a bed, tried to rip her clothes off and clapped his hand over her mouth as she pleaded for help.” Kavanaugh denied every allegation during his testimony later in the day, calling the allegations a “circus” bent on destroying his nomination.

The following day, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance the nomination to the full Senate next week, following an FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) investigation including a renewed background check on Kavanaugh. 

Students have been closely following the quickly-developing events surrounding the approval process and have spoken out in classes and on social media, sharing news articles reflecting their views on the situation.

Associate Professor of Political Science Toby Reiner introduced the discussion in one of his classes, and offered the class’s political analysis of the trial.

“I think the general sense was that what [the trial] really exposed was that we have become used to accepting a quite high degree of partisanship that is probably inimical to the healthy functioning of the Supreme Court,” said Reiner.

Baker continued,  “While Christine Blasey Ford gave a collected, civic testimony, she’s been lambasted and condemned for her emotion, where Kavanaugh’s testimony was not only riddled with lies but full of toxic anger and puerility.”

Jack Kedson ’22 echoed these same ideas, stating, “I think he has no right to sit on the bench with these distinguished and hardworking judges.”

Paul Romaine ’22 agreed, calling Kavanaugh an “elusive weasel,” also stating that he “has no right to sit in one of the chairs.”

However, some students are unsure about the evidence presented during the testimonies.

“My opinion would be that something probably happened to her. But I can’t say for sure that it was Kavanaugh because of the lack of evidence that is procured on Dr. Ford’s side,” said Evan Rosenberg ’22. “My one thing about the testimonies is that I would be in favor of Kavanaugh because the witnesses that she called actually spoke in favor of Kavanaugh’s behavior and to the kind of person he [is]. And no evidence toward the fact that he did something.”

Rosenberg refers to the statements made by Mark Judge, Leland Keyser and Patrick J. Symth, three people who Ford asserted were at the party at which she claims she was assaulted. All three were unable to recall the specific party in question, although Keyser has affirmed that she believes Ford, despite her inability to cite the specific party.

In contrast, Jillian Clark ’19 said that “there is no doubt in my mind that Kavanagh committed the alleged act.” She called Ford’s testimony “not only brave but also lined up with everything I myself know to be true about the after effects of sexual assault.”

Julia Kagan ’21 is concerned about the message that the state of the hearings and investigation is sending to the U.S. 

“It sends a message to a lot of young boys that you can get away with the way you treat women when you’re in college and high school and that your actions don’t have any consequences,” she said. “There is no reason for someone like Dr. Ford to make this up—she’s gotten death threats.” CNN reports in a Sept. 20 article that both Ford and Kavanaugh have received death threats. Ford has left her home and relocated with her family as a result. 

Baker and Kedson both said Kavanaugh should withdraw his name, or that conservatives should propose a different nominee.

“This case has become symbolic of the country’s approach to sexual assault and men in power, and we need to show now that we value women’s experiences over the perpetuation of toxic male behavior,” stated Baker. “It’s time for the boys’ club in politics and culture to expunge its frat-boy tendencies and toxicity and it’s time for women to come into our own, in all aspects of our lives.”

According to Kedson, “…I feel like there are many other viable conservative people. Someone who doesn’t have these allegations.”

Rosenberg stated that if there is a way to prove the allegations, the Kavanaugh should not be confirmed. “But until then I see no reason why he couldn’t be confirmed.”

Clark is not optimistic that Kavanaugh will withdraw, or not be appointed.

“I honestly believe it would take something close to a miracle for this man to not be put onto the bench,” she said. “I do not believe that the Republican leadership cares half as much about the character of their nominee as they do about getting a win in the books.” Despite this, Clark added, “I will not stop calling my senator until the vote occurs and I suggest everyone who is able do the same.”

Kagan said that it survivors of sexual assault should “remember to take care of themselves” while the trials are dominating headlines. “…It’s very hard to be watching the news right now because paying attention to what’s on going it can be very triggering.”

The New York Times article which is used for background information in this article is titled “Brett Kavanaugh: The News on the Accusations, the Hearing and More.” It was originally published on Sept. 26 and was most recently updated Sept. 30.

All information in this article is accurate as on print time, Tuesday, Oct. 2 at 7:37 p.m.

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