Just before Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is set to face a Senate confirmation vote Friday, Duke saw its first organized protest against the nominee.
Sanford Women in Policy, a graduate student organization, organized a walkout in the grassy space between Rubenstein Hall and the Sanford Building Thursday afternoon. What appeared to be nearly 100 onlookers—including students and faculty—listened to speakers including Meg Fee, a second year graduate student, advocate for believing victims of sexual assault as a non-partisan issue.
“Ninety to 98 percent of accusations are credible—this is backed up by academic research,” Fee said in prepared remarks. “‘We believe women' isn’t a partisan stance, it is evidence-based policy. Or well, it should be."
The protest came around the same time as protestors took to the streets in Washington D.C. in the “Cancel Kavanaugh” protest, which was planned to span from the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse, where Kavanaugh is currently a federal appeals court judge, to the Supreme Court, which is located on the other side of the Capitol Building complex.
Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court has come under scrutiny after Christine Blasey Ford, research psychologist at Stanford University, accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers. Kavanaugh and Ford testified last week in an emotional hearing in front of the Senate, in which Kavanaugh denied sexually assaulting Ford. An FBI investigation found no information to corroborate Ford's claims.
Additional women have since made public allegations against Kavanaugh, including one woman who claims Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a Yale party when he was an undergraduate there. A final vote on his appointment is expected during the weekend, according to the New York Times.
Fee stressed that the senators’ standard for Kavanaugh’s confirmation should not be "innocent until proven guilty,” as in criminal cases, or “a preponderance of evidence,” like in civil cases.
“The threshold for appointing someone to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, should be even lower,” Fee said. “Closer to 'Are we almost positive that Brett Kavanaugh did not attempt to rape a 15-year-old girl when he was a senior in high school?'”
After the speakers finished, the organizers encouraged onlookers to write messages about their feelings on post-it notes that were pasted on a glass window on the Sanford building.
“It’s of whatever they feel," Fee said. "It could be I’m really angry, it could be 'I believe women.'"
Messages included “forward with strength,” “hope compels us" and “we believe you,” among dozens of post-it notes pasted within a few minutes of the protest.
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