Westmont students debate Kavanaugh confirmation
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222 Westmont students responded to an anonymous 10-question survey regarding the new Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh, who erupted the country in debate over allegations of decades-old accusations of sexual assault from three different women. Based on this survey, the Horizon found one underlying message: with controversial issues like this, the campus, like the nation itself, remains largely split.
The survey found that the majority of students (57%) on both the conservative and liberal spectrum did not support of the current Trump administration, while 34% did, and 8% were either unsure or neutral. The survey also found that while 40% of students did not support Justice Kavanaugh being nominated to the Supreme Court before allegations of sexual assault were known to the public back in July, and 33% supported him then, after these allegations were made public, the percentage of student opposition jumped 14% from the original 40% to 54%. These allegations had a minimal impact on his support from students, with the percentage of students opposing Kavanaugh’s nomination only rising 5% from 33% to 38%.
However, when asked about how much they believe sexual assault claims from Justice Kavanaugh’s alleged victim of sexual assault, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who testified late last month to the Senate Judiciary Committee, most students felt more unsure of Dr. Ford’s reliability than any other emotion. The average number on a scale of 1-100 (1 being no belief at all, 50 being unsure, 100 being complete belief) was 58.
Many of the students that support Justice Kavanaugh and doubted Dr. Ford’s allegations gave comments anonymously on the survey. They said they believed Kavanaugh because “[Dr. Ford] had no corroborating evidence” “no witnesses” and cited “Kavanaugh’s long professional track record of integrity and respect for women.” More extreme responses claimed that Dr. Ford was “full of crap” “a plant by the unbelievably corrupt Democratic party and the CIA” and that “kids do crappy stuff. It happens.”
Students who opposed Justice Kavanaugh and supported Dr. Ford commented, “there is nothing that she could possibly gain out of falsely accusing Kavanaugh,” “her story came across as plausible and included various details, evidence, and witnesses,” and that “Kavanaugh acted in a hostile, inappropriate, and demeaning manner during the trial.” Two students wrote about their own experiences with sexual abuse saying, “I choose to believe her on the basis that I would want someone to believe me if I ever wanted to tell my story of sexual assault,” and, “I was sexually assaulted and there’s no evidence supporting that, but I still know that it happened. She knows what happened and I believe her.”
Additionally, 88% of students believe that if Justice Kavanaugh were to be found guilty of sexual assault by a credible, non-partisan, investigative group, he ought to be removed from the Supreme Court, while 12% of students believe that if found guilty, he ought to remain on the Court.
Most supporters of Kavanaugh identified themselves with the Republican party (32%) and most opposed to Kavanaugh identified themselves with the Democratic party (26%), while the majority of students do not align themselves with a specific party (36%). The most common makeup of a survey responder was a fourth-year Caucasian female that does not align herself with a political party.