Holding signs that bore slogans like, “No justice, no seat,” “#BelieveHer,” “ I don’t give a damn about your reputation” and “KAVA-NOPE,” at least 300 people gathered in Chapman’s Attallah Piazza Oct. 10 for a walkout to protest Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
After he was accused by three women of sexual misconduct, Kavanaugh’s nomination and subsequent confirmation to the Supreme Court has sparked protests across the nation at government buildings and on college campuses alike.
Some speakers at the protest were tearful, some sang or recited poetry, but many had one thing in common: experiences with sexual assault, abuse or harassment. While some spoke about instances of sexual assault or harassment as children, most talked about their experiences with sexual misconduct in high school or college.
One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
At Chapman, there were three reported rapes and six reported instances of fondling in 2017, according to the 2018 Annual Security and Fire Safety report, but these numbers don’t reflect assaults or incidents of sexual misconduct that take place off campus.
Blake Hilton, one of the students who organized the event, encouraged the women in the audience not to be the “chill girl” and said that men shouldn’t just be allies, but instead “traitors” to a system that benefits them.
“We will not sit down and shut up, we will not smile, we will not go away,” said Hilton, who is a junior art major. “We will not chill out or stop being crazy, because now we know the truth.”
“We will not sit down and shut up, we will not smile, we will not go away.”
The protest came two days after President Donald Trump said in a Oct. 8 speech at the White House that Kavanaugh has been “proven innocent.”
Although Kavanaugh was officially sworn in Oct. 6, Trump held a separate, nationally televised swearing Oct. 8, during which he apologized to Kavanaugh’s family for the “terrible pain (they) have been forced to endure” and called the accusations against Kavanaugh a “campaign of political and personal destruction.”
“The president has created a sense of hysteria that it’s men who need to protect their name right now as opposed to (focusing on) what’s actually happening to women,” said Kelly Cripe, a junior film production major who spoke at the protest. “It’s not about protecting your name, it’s about safety, well-being and security and being able to live your own life not in fear.”
The crowd was quiet as junior James Farmer, who said he was a Navy veteran, prepared to speak about halfway through the protest.
“I’m going to say this frankly: An accusation is not enough to put someone in the ground,” said Farmer, a biological sciences major, as members of the crowd began to yell and interrupt him. “So you want no other opinions except for your own?”
One protestor yelled at Farmer to get off the stage, while another yelled, “That’s not what this is about.” One yelled, “Let him speak.”
“An accusation is not enough to put someone in the ground.”
“This is emotion versus conversation,” Farmer said, just before integrated educational studies professor Noah Golden encouraged Farmer to come down off of a ledge near the stage and said that he wanted to talk with Farmer.
Golden and Farmer later stepped aside to speak, joined by a group of at least 15 students, community members and professors.
Zachary Salem-Mackall, a junior communication studies major, helped convince Farmer to come offstage.
“He shouldn’t have been speaking, this isn’t his place to speak,” Salem-Mackall said. “People like that are so bad for the cause, people who want to victim-blame are so counterproductive and so awful. I felt like I had to try to get him off stage.”
Kaedi Dalley, a freshman undeclared major, sang a version of Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” with the lyrics changed to reflect the history of women’s experience with reporting sexual misconduct.
“How many tears does it take to be shed ‘till he knows that too many have cried?” Dalley sang. “How many deaths does it take to care that too many women have died? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, but for me and my sisters, it’s the end.”
Some students began to cry as Dalley sang. Dalley said she was asked to sing by Chapman women’s studies professor C.K. Magliola, who gave her the adapted version of the song.
“Women risk the livelihood of themselves and their families, their careers and relive their trauma over and over again in the public eye because they know it is their civic duty to do so,” said Deming Magner, a junior screenwriting major who helped to organize the event. “We believe them. We have to believe them, because we are them.”
Jasmin Sani, Gracie Fleischman and Celine Francois contributed to this report.
Clarification: A source’s name has been removed from this story due to the source’s fear for their safety.