Students say KavaNAH to Supreme Court confirmation at campus rally
BY Senior Reporter
AND , Senior Reporter
Shortly after the news broke that Brett Kavanaugh was likely be confirmed into the Supreme Court on Friday afternoon, The Green was filled with students and community members, protesting the nomination and speaking out for survivors of sexual assault.
Their protests went unheard. The Senate confirmed Kavanaugh in a 50-48 vote earlier today.
As the last few students were shuffling home after class, an echo of “No justice! No seat!” bounced between a single megaphone and a growing crowd of sexual assault survivors, allies and others opposing Kavanaugh.
The rally began with Joanne Sampson, the program coordinator for violence prevention in the office of Student Wellness and Health Promotion.
“In the words of Sara Bareilles, say what you want to say and let the words fall out, honestly,” Sampson said.
She followed with a trigger warning and made the crowd aware of the resources on campus if they ever need someone to talk to, including Sexual Offense Support and the Counseling Center. She reminded students of what to do if a friend discloses sexual assault: “Tell them ‘I believe you, I support you, it’s not your fault.’”
Thereafter, members of Generation Action read a series of anonymous stories about sexual assault, harassment and violence. Around a dozen students took the opportunity to take the megaphone and share their own story.
Samantha Fortunato, a junior, took the chance to share her own story of sexual misconduct for the first time, citing the strength of the group of other survivors, attendees and organizers.
“I feel like everyone on this campus has been touched by sexual assault in some way,” Fortunato said. “Either you know someone on your time or in your sorority. For some reason people don’t want to talk about it, it’s so hush-hush here… We need to have events like this because it does create awareness and make people want to step up. Sexual assault, people assume it’s only rape, it can only be male on female, but there’s so many different degrees of it and people aren’t aware
State Sen. Bryan Townsend (D-District 11) spoke at the rally of his support for survivors and distaste for Kavanaugh. Townsend is a former graduate of the university and, like Kavanaugh, a Yale Law School alumnus.
“This isn’t just about Ford, and I’m sure she knew that the minute she said anything,” Townsend said. The senator remained at the rally for the entire duration of it and lended an open ear for anyone who would like to talk.
“He doesn’t deserve that seat,” he said. “I don’t care what law school he went to. It doesn’t make you a Democrat or Republican to say that.”
Sarah Bernstein, the vice president of Planned Parenthood Generation Action at the university, came up with idea for the “Support Survivors #KavaNAH” rally earlier that week in one of her classes, when her political communications professor admitted that she did not know whether or not Kavanaugh would advance to the Supreme Court.
“People need community at a time like this,” Bernstein said, remembering a speak-out during her freshman year where anyone could come and share their stories.
“Now that I’m an upperclassman and have really cool leadership positions I think I have an influence on this campus,” she said. “It’s really special to be able to do that for younger students.”
As students at the rally held colorful, homemade signs, declaring “Stop Kavanaugh” and “Nasty Women Vote,” a small crowd of students stood yards away, their own posters reading “Witch Hunt” and “Confirm Kavanaugh.” The counter-protestors declined an interview.
“I think with everything there is going to be a counter protest but just ignore them,” Matt Wade, a junior at the rally, said. “With such an emotional issue, they’re trying to get a response, and when you just ignore them, they’re going to go away.”
A previous version of this article misquoted Joanne Sampson, the program coordinator for violence prevention in the office of Student Health and Wellness Promotion.