Editorial: To Believe or Not to Believe, That is the Question

On July 8, Brett Kavanaugh, a former U.S. District Court judge, was nominated by President Donald Trump for a seat on the Supreme Court after the retirement of swing voter Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Over the past few weeks, a barrage of media coverage has descended onto the confirmation hearings; from the GOP dumping roughly 100,000 documents regarding Kavanaugh the night before the first day of the nominee’s hearing conducted by the Senate Judiciary Committee; to the emergence of sexual assault and harassment allegations from multiple women, most notably by Christine Blasey Ford, a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University and Stanford University School of Medicine.

During the hearings for Kavanaugh, Ford decided last minute to testify about her alleged attempted rape by Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge.

Emotions flared on both sides. Kavanaugh was blasted for losing his cool during his testimony about the accusations, while Ford’s fearful, yet powerful image circled around the internet, hailing her as both a hero and accusing her of being a liar.

The main question going through a lot of minds is, “Why come forward now and not immediately after it happens?” This statement is not only insensitive, but ignorant as well. Those individuals who have this mindset fail to put themselves in Ford’s, or any sexual assault/harassment victim’s, shoes.

Powerful people in powerful positions can have a great effect on other’s lives and perhaps Ford was fearful of being labeled a liar and losing her career if she came forward. Many sexual assault and harassment victims tend to push those scaring events to the back of their mind, because it’s better to forget it even happened than to speak up.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, an average of 90 percent of individuals who are raped are women and five percent are men. NSVRC also reports that rape continues to be the most unreported crime; roughly 63 percent of rapes are not reported to the authorities.

Illustration by Nicole Narváez (Instagram: narvaez_art)

The effects of sexual assault don’t only play out on national TV, but also in the lives of those around us everyday.

This week, The Jambar uncovered a story regarding the sexual harassment allegations against a Dana School of Music tuba professor, Brian Kiser. Now placed on administrative leave, Kiser was accused of “creating a hostile environment” in which he “sought out attractive female students” to babysit for him.

The investigative report concluded that Kiser used intimidation tactics in order to use his power to take advantage of his student babysitters both mentally and physically for his own pleasure.

Multiple victims reported to the YSU Title IX Office that Kiser created a sexually hostile environment for multiple years before ultimately reporting his actions to then director, Cynthia Kravitz.

This particular incident shows that the victims waited years to report in fear of losing chances of furthering their academic and professional careers, just like Ford.

We live in a strange world today — a world where the words of multiple women are outweighed by the words of a single man. But perhaps it has been that way all along and we have neglected to acknowledge it.

It’s disappointing to think that the intentions of victims coming forward could be so twisted and contorted to fit a specific political agenda instead of spreading the message that it’s okay to speak up about what happened to them and that is was wrong.

Kavanaugh was ultimately confirmed for the open seat in SCOTUS, but not without a plethora of opposition.

The Jambar believes Ford and will continue to stand with her and other victims of sexual assault and harassment against those in power who try to silence the truth of the weak.

And don’t forget to say her name — Christine Blasey Ford.