Students, faculty stage nationwide anti-Kavanaugh protests
University administrations and students across the country canceled and marched out of classes on Thursday in protest of Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The walkouts took place on dozens of college campuses, from Vermont to California.
Students at the University of California at Berkeley walked out today in a “Cancel Kavanaugh” protest. The rally at UC Berkeley includes a march on the Berkeley chapter of the fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon. Kavanaugh was a member of the founding chapter of DKE at Yale.
"What has been done to Brett Kavanaugh is a national disgrace. As a man, it is horrifying that many people think we should live in a world where any woman’s claim, without evidence, can destroy my life. People marching in protest of Kavanaugh are despicable, and their targeting of DKE is despicable,” Berkeley student Chase Alpin told Campus Reform.
“Berkeley—a microcosm of liberal thought. Berkeley is suffused with liberalism, ranging from protests about veganism to, as it appears, Supreme Court nominees,” another UC- Berkeley student, Joseph Rodriguez, told Campus Reform. “Given these simple facts, it seems expected that students are marching to ‘stop Kavanaugh.’ I think those that are protesting do not fear Kavanaugh himself, but rather fear his judicial philosophy.”
“They fear conservatism. I think what they fear most is the prospect of deeming the unborn worthy of protection—what they call a woman’s “right” to abortion,” Rodriguez continued. “The involvement of the Berkeley DKE chapter is, in my estimation, quite asinine. it demonstrates their desperation. Their attempts to cling onto irrelevant information is telling of their debase[d] character.”
The University of Vermont and Champlain College students also organized a "Cancel Class. Cancel Kavanaugh" protest today.
In an event held on the campus of the University of Vermont in Burlington, students walked out of class in protest of Kavanaugh while encouraging others to join in the walkout by advertising with posters.
Faculty at the University of Vermont also expressed in a letter their grievances with Kavanaugh.
“We also write against the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and against the toxic conditions of gender, sexual, and racial inequality and violence that have been fomented by the country’s highest office holders. These are the toxic conditions that gave rise to Kavanaugh’s nomination and that his elevation to the Supreme Court would reinforce, including at the University of Vermont and in our wider community.”
Seventy-five plus signatures were attached to the letter, which further called on others at the University of Vermont “to stand with Dr. Ford and with survivors of sexual assault.”
“[W]e call on the UVM administration to increase prevention strategies to combat assault and improve the humane and sensitive treatment of victims who report sexual violence,” the letter stated.
Jace Laquerre, who is a sophomore at the University of Vermont and member of the conservative group TPUSA, told Campus Reform that the protests today at UVM was nothing more than a “recruitment tool to rally for their agenda and upcoming election.” Laquerre noted that “the big banner at the front said free abortion on demand.”
Laquerre estimated that there were around 250 students, faculty members, and concerned community members at the Vermont protest.
Campus Reform reached out to the University of Vermont but did not hear back by the time of publication.
Student groups at DePaul University in Chicago also staged a protest on Thursday.
The “emergency” meeting, as described by an email sent out by the student-led group, Roosevelt Institute at DePaul, praised the walk-out and planned to add the students who demonstrated at the Lincoln Park Campus to the major protest downtown. Below is the flyer for the downtown Chicago event.
One attendee who attended the DePaul meeting described it as “all chants and buzzwords with no discussion or debate.”
During the meeting, the hosts were heard saying “be loud on the quad regardless of administrative permission” and told the meeting’s attendees to do “whatever feels natural in the moment” with regard to the demonstration.
The groups hoped to “find [the] left-most sympathetic professors” in order to get them on board with the walk out. If professors denied students permission to leave during class, attendees were told to make a “judgment call.” Protest methods explored during the meeting included “blitz[ing] the crap out of DePaul [with posters] so they don’t know who did it.”
According to notes obtained from the meeting, the student groups involved included Students for Reproductive Justice, Students for Justice in Palestine, Students Against Incarceration, the DePaul Socialists, DePaul Advocates for Sexual Assault Prevention, and the DePaul Women’s March.
Campus Reform reached out to all of the above groups, but only two responded.
The DePaul Socialists urged Campus Reform to attend the walk-out to answer any questions.
“Because we are in the middle of prepping for the event right now, I’m not sure we will have time to adequately answer your question- however, feel free to come to the rally on the quad at four to ask folks if they'd like to participate,” the group replied.
Riley Reed, the president of the Women’s March DePaul replied to Campus Reform’s request for comment. “The purpose is to stand in solidarity with sexual assault survivors like Dr. [Christine Blasey] Ford, and show that we don't want someone serving the United States that will hinder the rights of women and serve a political agenda in a nonpartisan position.”
Reed continued with, “We hope that the walkout and protest will show our senators that we do not stand for Kavanaugh's nomination, and we want to send the message to vote against his confirmation.” “We would like to gather a coalition of students to stand against sexual assault, and encourage involvement in voting, the political process, and to keep students aware. We want to change the culture around sexual violence, and show it is okay to speak up, and that a person should be believed and supported no matter when they come forward.”
When asked if the administration will punish the student groups involved, Reed expressed no concern over this. “I don't think DePaul will provide consequences since they stand with our rights as students to free speech and protest.”
Campus Reform reached out to DePaul University for comment but did not receive a reply in time for publication.
The walkout itself presented a low turnout. According to a DePaul student who is a member of multiple conservative groups on campus, William Murphy, the walkout consisted of about 60 students who gathered at the main part of campus for less than 30 minutes.
“A few speakers shouted in a megaphone and led anti-Kavanaugh chants. One of them was an anti-beer chant which was pretty funny. They eventually noticed us [DePaul College Republicans] and started screaming at us, calling us racist bigots,” Murphy told Campus Reform.
After about 20 minutes, the protest group headed downtown to join with the larger protest.
Celine Ryan contributed to this report.