By Betty Dereje
A public letter in support of Stanford-affiliated research psychologist Christine Blasey Ford, who last month came forward with sexual assault allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, has garnered more than 1,170 signatures from students, alumni and faculty. The document also proclaims support for all sexual assault survivors at Stanford.
Despite the letter’s efforts to galvanize and publicize public disapproval of Kavanaugh’s nomination to the nation’s highest court, he was confirmed and sworn in after a razor-thin Senate vote on Saturday.
The letter began circulating on Oct. 4, two days before the ultimate confirmation.
“We cannot stand idly by while sexual assault is condoned on a national scale,” organizers Megha Parwani ’21 and first-year Ph.D. candidates Alexa Russo and Emilia Groupp wrote in the letter.
Parwani and Russo said they were proud that the letter garnered more than one thousand signatures.
They wrote the letter in response to what Russo described as a “radio silence” on campus about Ford’s testimony.
In addition, they hoped that mobilizing supporters through the letter would inspire greater campus discourse on victims of sexual assault.
“Other people who identify with her cause will see the letter,” Parwani said. “It brought people together and brought this issue to the forefront.”
One of the many signatures on this letter was Seo-Young Chu M.A. ’01, an associate professor of English at Queens College, CUNY who publicly accused now-deceased English professor Jay Fliegelman of harassing and raping her while she was a graduate student, and who has openly criticized Stanford English for its response to the allegations.
“The hearing was an excruciating flare-up of a chronic disease that is harming everyone on this planet — albeit unequally: rape culture,” Chu wrote in an email to The Daily.
She added that she signed the letter to “honor Dr. Ford’s voice, her sacrifice, her courage.”
The Stanford College Republicans (SCR), ardent supporters of Kavanaugh’s nomination, denounced the letter as politically motivated.
“Most disturbingly, this letter supports Dr. Ford’s speaking of ‘her truth’ and all the accusers’ sharing of ‘their truth,'” the organization wrote in a statement to The Daily.
“There is only one objective truth, and an unfortunately long list of students, faculty and staff at Stanford University, an institution supposedly dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and truth, decided to toss the truth to the wind in favor of political expediency,” SCR wrote.
In the wake of Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Stanford’s Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) opened up additional sessions on Monday and Tuesday.
“Please know that our community is here for you through this difficult time,” wrote CAPS director Bina Patel in an email circulated to the student body.
Contact Betty Dereje at bdereje ‘at’ stanford.edu