Christine Blasey Ford, a 1988 UNC graduate who testified before the Senate that then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school, has been nominated for a 2019 Distinguished Alumna and Alumnus Award.
“What Dr. Blasey Ford did on Sept. 27, 2018 was something that was extraordinary in how ordinary it was: she told the truth about a sexual assault she experienced when she was fifteen years old at the hands of Judge Brett Kavanaugh,” read the nomination letter, written by English and comparative literature professor Jennifer Ho.
Nine days after Ford’s testimony, Kavanaugh was confirmed as a Supreme Court justice.
“It’s deflating, and it’s disheartening,” Ho said. “It’s basically saying, ‘We’re choosing to believe powerful men, rather than to believe the more than credible testimony of a woman.’"
In her testimony, Ford said trauma from her sexual assault made the first two years of her undergraduate experience difficult. As an educator, it was a reminder that students struggle with more than the material on the syllabus, Ho said in the nomination letter.
According to the 2018 Annual Security & Fire Safety Report, 81 rapes were reported to UNC Police in 2017, 51 of which were reported by the same person. In June, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights found UNC to be in violation of Title IX laws that ban gender discrimination.
“I thought this would be a way to signal that we, as her undergraduate alma mater, are supporting her and that we believe her,” Ho said. “And I think that it also sends a signal to the larger University community that we believe our students when they come forward and they tell us that they have been sexually assaulted.”
Ho’s letter had received over 2,000 signatures of support as of Wednesday morning. Ho will continue to collect signatures until midnight Oct. 13, when she will submit her nomination letter and the signatures to the Honorary Degrees and Special Awards Committee.
Among the signatories on Ho’s letter is Insaaf Mohamed, a 2018 UNC graduate who crowdfunded a full-page ad supporting Ford that appeared in The Daily Tar Heel.