This week, two new sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh surfaced. As of Wednesday, three women have come forward with allegations against the potential candidate for one of the most important seats in our government. Last week, Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University, went public with a disturbing incident that occurred while her and Kavanaugh were at a high school party. Deborah Ramirez spoke out earlier this week with the help of a civil rights lawyer regarding her experience of sexual assault by Kavanaugh while they were classmates at Yale University. On Tuesday, a third woman who attended high school nearby Kavanaugh, accused the nominee of sexual misconduct during a string of high school parties.
The course of action before the Senate should have been clear: investigate these allegations seriously and thoroughly before elevating Kavanaugh for a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court. Yet Republicans in the majority have sought to disregard or discredit the seriousness of the matter. In response to hearing rumors of the second set of allegations, The New Yorker reported Senate Republicans chose to accelerate the confirmation process rather than slow down and allow Ramirez to tell her story. The Senate Judiciary Committee even chose to schedule Kavanaugh’s nomination for Friday, thereby assuming the testimony from Blasy-Ford the day before will have no effect on continuing the nomination process.
As college students, we are appalled. Senate Republicans, don’t tell the Ramirezs and Kavanaughs that walk among us today that there is a statute of limitations on one’s moral character. Yet, Senate Republicans have chosen in their actions to broadcast to the world — and us —allegations of sexual misconduct from a man’s past should have no serious bearing on his elevation to the nation’s highest court. What does that say to the high school students and college freshmen across the country? The rhetoric, from President Donald Trump in particular, exudes a rationale and sense of exception for both a young Kavanaugh and Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh. But how can we disregard the actions of one from the other?
The allegations against Kavanaugh bring into question the standards surrounding the morality and character we hold our officials to. Yet, it is no longer acceptable to only hold those in positions of power accountable. The consistent argument from Trump, Kavanaugh and other Republican officials hinging on the time lag between the public accusations and when the events actually occurred brings into question how we hold those our age, those around us, accountable for their actions.
On a campus confronting the same issues of sexual assault, survivor care and dangerous party culture, we need to hold our peers to a standard of character. The dorm party that becomes uncomfortable and crosses a line, someone taking advantage of another student at that Welcome Week house party and the inappropriate advances happening next you at a bar – these instances, not all that different from the experiences the three women underwent, happen all too often on our campus. Yes, a conversation and active change regarding how we evaluate the character of the men and women we put in office is vital. But, if the Kavanaugh accusations highlight anything, it is that there is no expiration date for the repercussions of our past actions. There should be no acceptance, regardless of age, position or situation when it comes to sexual assault.
Almost 30 years ago we had an opportunity to set a precedent for how we treat survivors. It was hailed as a watershed moment, but we ended up going backward. Democratic senators treated Anita Hill, Justice Clarence Thomas’s sexual assault accuser, with outright disdain and disrespect. The hearings and investigations into Kavanaugh’s conduct are an opportunity to set a new precedent of respect, to bring justice to the victims and to do right by Hill and all those neglected in the past. If Senate Republicans choose to continue the course of plowing ahead with Kavanaugh’s nomination, it becomes imperative we exercise our right to hold officials accountable and go out and vote. If you would want the alleged sexual assaulter sitting next to you properly investigated, make sure nominees to the highest court in the nation are too.