Set an example with Judge Kavanaugh

By Ellen Barczak, Columnist

I believe victims. Judge Kavanaugh should not be our next Supreme Court justice.

For those who are unaware, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick — women he knew in either high school or college. He has been accused of groping, tainting drinks and attempted rape.

Here at the University, sexual assault is a problem. If you haven’t experienced it yourself, chances are you know somebody who has. And it would be foolish for us to deny the role Greek life plays in this problem.

According to Cornell University, 76 percent of current senators and 85 percent of past Supreme Court justices have pledged a fraternity. Only two percent of American men have been in a fraternity. And we wonder why there’s such a boys’ club in politics.

Judge Kavanaugh was in a fraternity during his time at Yale: Delta Kappa Epsilon. At his initiation, two men wielded a flag made of lingerie across the campus.

“But it was 30 years ago!” some will say. “Everyone does stupid stuff when they’re a kid.”

Sure, we’ve all done stupid stuff — but attempted rape? That’s not stupid. It’s egregious, morally repugnant. Evil.

Judge Kavanaugh may feel remorse for what he did; he may even feel so sorry for what he has done that he believes he should no longer bear the consequences of his actions — that he has already paid the piper, so to speak, through his own conscience.

However, we must pause to consider the precedent we would set if he was sworn in, despite these accusations. We would simply be telling young men all over the country that it’s A-OK to sexually assault people, for later in life, it won’t even matter. There won’t be any truly negative consequences to their actions.

While not all aspects of fraternity life lead to negative habits, they tend to breed a host of shamelessly reprehensible qualities in their members. The process of recruitment promotes an elitist attitude — the “social events” a culture of binge drinking and the brotherhood the celebration of sexual escapades, regardless of consent.

Considering the men with which Kavanaugh fraternized in his formative years, these accusations come as no surprise to me.

He is but a product of “bro culture,” one that celebrates elitism, the abuse of power differentials and sexual encounters at whatever the cost. So many leaders of our nation are gestated in this toxic environment; it is no wonder some cannot seem to understand no means no and everyone deserves respect and safety.

I think Kavanaugh is guilty, but I also think he is remorseful. I believe he regrets his actions and therefore, feels morally justified in denying these accusations. He has worked hard the rest of his life, after all, and his achievements are undeniably impressive.

But these accomplishments do not change the fact he has been accused by three separate people of sexual assault. For those who doubt the validity of these three women’s claims, understand their incentives for speaking out.

They knew they would be criticized and hounded by the media, they would have to question their physical safety. They knew they would receive negative attention on a national level. Our society doesn’t treat victims of sexual assault with kindness and understanding.

So why would they do it? Why would they bring controversy upon themselves?

They spoke up because they care about our country. They spoke up because they don’t want the highest court in our government to be bastardized by yet another eager member of this boys’ club. They have no other incentive.

This decision is about more than Judge Kavanaugh’s reputation and livelihood; it’s about setting an example, a standard, for what is and is not acceptable behavior. Young men need to see that their actions do, in fact, have consequences even greater than and including the trauma inflicted upon their victims.

A man who has committed egregiously dishonorable actions should not sit in a position of honor, for it delegitimizes not only his own position but the authority of the greater organization around him.

I’m sure there is a veritable plethora of qualified candidates who have never committed sexual assault. Why don’t we turn to one of them?

Ellen is a sophomore in LAS.

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