The Daily Tar Heel
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The Daily Tar Heel

Editor's note: This editorial discusses sensitive topics such as sexual assault. 


Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on October 6, 2018. 

A little more than one year ago, our editorial board wrote an article saying we stand with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford — now, as the Supreme Court has begun its session, we are reaffirming our stance of standing with survivors. 

When Kavanaugh was sworn in, it was a gut punch to sexual assault survivors everywhere. His confirmation told the American public that if an assailant had the money, the degree and the connections to not only avoid punishment, but be appointed to the Supreme Court, then the experience of survivors doesn't really matter. Since then, that sexual assault allegation hasn't been something that Kavanaugh has had to worry about.

It’s a little nauseating that months after testifying, Dr. Ford is still the target of hateful messages and death threats. Even now, in the weeks surrounding the anniversary of her testimony, she is receiving backlash. This tells other survivors that if they bravely step forward as she did, nothing good will come of it. At least, that’s what Republicans in congress want you to think. 

Now that the hearing has been over for a while and Kavanaugh is very much sworn in, the dust has settled around what his confirmation means for our country and our campus. 

For our country, it means that we are facing some extremely impactful Supreme Court decisions that could threaten the rights of LGBTQ+ workers and immigrants. Previously, his rulings impacted issues like prison time for repeat violent offenders. In all instances, Kavanaugh is a key conservative voice in a lot of these pivotal human rights cases. 

For our campus, it means we need to be more cognizant of how we treat sexual assault survivors and how we normalize sexual assault; whether it’s reconsidering how we treat victims, taking reports more seriously or implementing new, substantive policies that make assault less likely to occur in the first place.

It appears that our campus is still struggling with instances of assault and how we deal with them. Sexual assault and drugging drinks at frat parties is endemic, and the University keeps pushing the same Title IX narrative they’ve stood behind for years. Yet somehow we've become so accustomed to this narrative that it's no longer as shocking as it should be, and our solutions are no more effective now than they have been in years past.

It’s not hard to believe that Kavanaugh was appointed when people on our own campus get away with assault just like a lot of other powerful men have and continue to do. And it’s not hard to believe that the burden of proof has been placed far too heavily on the victims. The questioning of Dr. Ford placed the blame on her — for drinking, for not reporting it earlier, for daring to come forward at all — rather than the actual perpetrator. 

Now, a little over a year later, and in our own efforts to grapple with a campus culture that normalizes sexual assault, we felt the need to reaffirm our stance. It’s hard to believe that someone like Brett Kavanaugh was appointed to the highest court in the land. It’s hard to believe the bravery that Dr. Ford displayed during her testimony. It’s hard to believe that this is a conversation we are still having in 2019. 

Dr. Ford, we are still proud to stand with you and all survivors.

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