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Students urge senators to vote no on Brett Kavanaugh nomination in call-in event

| Monday, October 8, 2018

Before the United States Senate voted Saturday to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, student activists gathered at Geddes Hall on Friday to call swing-state senators and convince them to vote “no” to Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Junior Emilia McManus said the #cancelKavanaugh event was initiated by a group of students with no formal affiliations who simply felt the urge to come together and organize a call-in.

“For the most part we stand for Dr. [Christine Blasey] Ford, but at the same time we welcome students who have different viewpoints under the circumstances,” McManus said. “Putting someone in a position of immense power like Brett Kavanaugh is something we have to take very seriously. … It’s important we consider [the facts] and contact our senators to do our civic duty.”

McManus said it is unfortunate how strongly the polarization of the country is contributing to the nomination process.

“This is an appointment for life,” McManus said. “… The position of the Supreme Court justice is not supposed to be based on political affiliation, it’s supposed to be based on choosing a person who can fairly interpret the Constitution.”

McManus said both testimonies were emotional experiences and, at times difficult, to watch. She said she still felt the testimonies were essential to watch in order to be as informed as possible.

Junior Elizabeth Boyle — who also helped organize the event — said she was amazed by Ford’s bravery after watching and listening to her testimony.

“I remember watching Dr. Ford’s testimony and just getting absolute chills,” Boyle said. “Seeing her put herself and her story out there in order to better the lives of other survivors is absolutely incredible. … The disconnect and the dichotomy between the calming, brave nature of Dr. Ford and the often scattered, angry temperament of Judge Kavanaugh really stuck out.”

Senior Olivia De Sonne Ammaccapane said she called over a hundred people on Friday, urging them to call their senators. 

“I think its really important that we start believing sexual assault survivors,” she said. “There’s such a tiny percentage of people who go through the trouble of accusing someone already and we need to believe them.”

McManus said regardless of a student’s motivations, she wanted people to understand they can take action. The event as not just targeted to those who opposed Kavanaugh’s nomination, she said.

“We had a student who stopped by earlier who is in favor of Kavanaugh,” she said. “We had a very productive discussion; he shared his viewpoint, we shared ours, and I think that’s important.”

Boyle encouraged students to be engaged in the political climate of the country because students have the ability to make a difference by bringing their unique voices to issues.

“We’re at such an interesting point in the U.S. where a lot of the policies coming out of the current administration are so disruptive to human dignity and human rights,” Boyle said. “We should be plugged into immigration debate and the DACA debate — we have to know what’s going on because we have an obligation to act.”

McManus said with the opportunities students at Notre Dame possess, they should do their best to stay informed.

“I think student activism is tremendously important,” McManus said. “We have the power to vote, we are given an immense amount of freedom and we need to voice our opinions.”

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