From middle school to graduate school, lesson plans have been dropped as students discuss the hearing in the context of the #MeToo moment.
The ongoing confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has captured national attention, including in classrooms. From middle school to graduate school, lesson plans have been dropped as students discuss the hearing in the context of the #MeToo moment.
At Seattle University School of Law on Thursday, students camped out from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Justice Fred H. Dore Courtroom on campus watching a TV broadcast of the hearing, studying for midterms during breaks. At least two professors canceled classes, instructing students to watch the hearing.
“I want to look back at this time as a time where people stood up for women and he was rejected,” said Tamara Comeau, a third-year law student. “I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out. So I want to be here for history in the making.”
Another professor had students attend a discussion with professors Deborah Ahrens and Brooke Coleman instead of class. Almost three decades after the Anita Hill hearing and in the midst of the #MeToo movement, law students wanted to know how much had changed.
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“Obviously they learned something from it because they didn’t have all of the hostility. I wish we could say we did better this time around. But I don’t think we did,” Coleman said. “Even though we have #MeToo, we haven’t learned how to move forward yet. This was this moment I was hopeful that on a big stage, it might happen.”
Coleman said while psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford had to give a perfect testimony and was subject to severe scrutiny, Kavanaugh wasn’t held to the same bar. He could appear aggressive and entitled, and will likely still end up being confirmed, she said.
First-year student Tori Sullivan said she wasn’t satisfied at the end of Thursday’s hearing and wished there had been an investigation. “It doesn’t seem like they’re doing everything they can to address this correctly,” she said.
Students saw parallels between how Ford was treated and how survivors experience the legal system, and asked how they can make the system better for survivors. Coleman said there won’t be a change until people in positions of power understand the impact of sexual assault on survivors. She called on students to use their power in their future careers to change the system and call out the boys-will-be-boys attitude she’s seen as being prevalent throughout the Kavanaugh hearings.
Students now are more aware of racial and gender injustice, Ahrens said, and she hopes this will impact the legal system in the future.
The hearings have also been discussed by younger students in the area. One Bellevue seventh-grade social studies teacher and sexual assault survivor said it had been difficult to respond to children’s curiosity.
During conversations, students have taken political stances about whether or not the accusations are true, which the teacher said she thinks is likely repeated from their parents. During one exchange, the teacher stopped students to explain the prevalence of sexual assault and why it can take survivors a while to come forward.
“The beauty of seventh grade is that they’re starting to think for themselves, but I also try to be really careful so as not to get emails from parents saying I’m trying to ‘push an agenda,'” she wrote in an email.
Education Lab engagement editor Mohammed Kloub contributed to this story.