SMART responds to Kavanaugh decision

Augsburg’s Sexual Misconduct Awareness Raising Team (SMART) wants to answer your questions about consent! They will be answering the questions bi-monthly in The ECHO in addition to addressing current events related to sexual misconduct.

Topics in this weeks article may be challenging for some to read, so please be advised and take care of yourself.

Politics have been relentless in the news lately, and if you use social media you cannot escape it. One of the most recent dilemmas revolved around the accused sexual misconduct of Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh, as a Supreme Court nominee, faced two different sexual misconduct claims. The first woman who came forward is Christine Blasey Ford. Her claims are from high school. She said, “Brett Kavanaugh physically and sexually assaulted me during high school in the early 1980s.” According to Ford, these acts took place at a small gathering in Maryland, and he committed these acts with the help of another. The other woman who came forward is Deborah Ramirez, who recalls a time in college at Yale where both her and Kavanaugh were at a party. She was sexually assaulted after participating in a drinking game in which she was repeatedly chosen to take more drinks.

    Kavanaugh had several defenses against these accusations. He has brought forward many character witnesses from that time of his life, many of which are female. Additionally, he claims to have been a virgin all through high school and college and that he would not have done anything sexual in nature during that time frame. Another of his defenses is that the party was not on his high school calendar which he has kept all these years.

The difficulty with these claims is that they were from a very long time ago, which makes finding evidence very difficult. However, the time elapsed does not make any of the claims more false or unimportant. Trump’s comment on Ford not reporting all those years ago spurred the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport on Twitter, where women and men share the barriers they faced to reporting their assaults. Sexual misconduct survivors came forward, showed their support for Ramirez and Ford and told their stories. However, many claim that this is all part of a smear campaign by Democrats against him, and that any allegations are false. 

    Unfortunately, it may never be publicly known who is telling the truth. Be informed, and you can decide for yourselves.

   Kavanaugh, having gone through his hearing, received the vote of 50–48 from the Senate and has now been officially sworn in. The significance of this is that there are only nine justices on the Supreme Court, and they maintain their position for life or until they decide to step down.  There are four Republicans and four Democrats on the Court, and Kavanaugh is also a Republican. As a result, the Republicans now have the power, for the better or worse. 

    At Augsburg, we want to be aware of these issues as sexual misconduct is something that affects even our small University, not just large universities like Yale. Be safe, be knowledgeable of what consent means and do not be afraid to ask for help from University staff, DPS or the Minneapolis police if the need arises. 

Questions for SMART’s monthly column can be submitted to smarteam@augsburg.edu. They will be printed anonymously and kept confidential.

SMART meets every other Wednesday in OGC 100 from 6pm-7pm. Keep an eye on their Facebook and Instagram pages for upcoming events. You can also email smarteam@augsburg.edu to get on their email list and to express interest in writing these articles.

This article first appeared in the Friday, October 12 edition of The Echo.