Students and Faculty Weigh-In on the Kavanaugh Hearings

By: Drew Eastland ’21

Staff Writer 

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process has taken tumultuous turns these past few weeks. On September 12th, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a statistics professor publicly accused Mr. Kavanaugh of assaulting her. The accusation first surfaced in a letter that was sent to Senator Dianne Feinstein in July, but Dr. Ford came forward as the author in September.

Specifically, Dr. Ford accused Kavanaugh and three friends of pinning her to a bed and attempting to remove her clothing. Dr. Ford is a professor of statistics at Palo Alto University. Kavanaugh denied the allegations in front of a senate committee under penalty of felony.

Some members of the Davidson community, particularly students, did not find the allegations to be a shocking revelation.

“To be honest, unfortunately I was not surprised at all,” said Gloria Fortuna, leader of the Student Rape Awareness Committee. “I was sort of surprised that someone had come forward.”

Fortuna also mentioned that many Davidson women she spoke to were not surprised by the allegations either.

Other members of the Davidson community have expressed some disbelief: Dr. Andrew O’Geen, an Associate Professor of Political Science, specializes in political law. O’Geen’s current research relates to the Supreme Court.

“When the details came out, it was pretty surprising actually…It reminded me quite a bit of the Clarence Thomas situation,” Dr. O’Geen said.

In 1991, current Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas faced a similar situation when Anita Hill came forward and accused Thomas of sexual harassment. Hill was a former co-worker of Thomas and accused him of harassment while they were working together. Ultimately, Thomas was confirmed by the Senate with a narrow four vote margin.

While Clarence Thomas was confirmed, he was accused of sexual harassment; Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual assault.

“I would say given the track record of this administration…I honestly would not be surprised either way,” Fortuna stated. “If Kavanaugh were to be denied, it would prove that the [Me-Too] movement [has] more traction and weight.”

The timing of the allegations right before the critical midterms may seem convenient for Democrats. The party may be eager to hold off a potential conservative justice until after the election, as they could regain majorities in the house and senate.

“I think the allegations came out because he was nominated,” O’Geen said. “I don’t think the allegations came out because there is an election coming up.”

Ford’s willingness to come forward in name furthers her credibility. Additionally, she has opened herself up to a lot of negative attention.

“My reading is that I don’t know why you would want to put yourself and your family through that if…there wasn’t some credibility behind it,” O’Geen said. “It is convenient for the Democrats if you’re thinking about it in purely political sense… it benefits them because they get to slow things down, and they might end up being able to stop the nomination.”

Other students on Davidson’s campus expressed more concern for Kavanaugh’s potential rightward leaning swing vote to a currently well-balanced Supreme Court.

“What should be discussed and examined is not whether or not Kavanaugh did things that 65 women claimed were entirely out of his character…in high school,” said Billy Mintz ’21,  “but [rather if] Kavanaugh…could lead to very anti-constructionist views concerning the individual right to privacy.”

Members of the Davidson community were adamant that when a federal judge, a figure of respect, is accused of sexual assault it says a great deal about the prevalence of sexual assault issues.

“It shows how pervasive these problems are and how deeply ingrained in our culture it is to take advantage of really anyone, but especially women, when it comes to sexual assault,” Fortuna remarked. “These issues are so insidious, and they begin so early in our lives…it just shows how early people become indoctrinated.”

On September 24th, a second woman, Deborah Ramirez a classmate from his time at Yale also came forward accusing Kavanaugh of exposing his genitals to her. The Kavanaugh camp responded that these allegations were a smear. The details of this allegation are still coming to fruition.

Two days later, a third woman came forward with alleging Kavanaugh of sexual assault. In the New York Times, Julie Swetnick discussed how she witnessed Kavanaugh harass and assault women at various parties in high school.

On Thursday October 4th, the FBI stated they were on able to corroborate the allegations, and on October 6, the Senate confirmed Kavanaugh with a 50-48 vote. 

 

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