On Monday, three days before U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh testified on allegations of sexual misconduct, ten Bowdoin students traveled to Washington D.C. to protest his confirmation. nine of the ten students were arrested outside of the office of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) while lobbying Collins to vote no.
On Thursday, two more Bowdoin students were arrested in Washington while blocking the street in front of the Supreme Court as Kavanaugh testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The students were a part of a number of demonstrations that took place across the country in the lead-up to the Kavanaugh’s testimony. Arguments articulated in opposition to the nomination have been diverse, ranging from reproductive rights and environmental protections to his opinions on executive power; however, they were largely united this week in their support for the three women—Christine Blasey Ford, Julie Swetnick and Deborah Ramirez—who have publicly accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.
“I believe for countless reasons that Brett Kavanaugh shouldn’t be on the Supreme Court. He is an ideologue. His prior legal rulings suggest that he will use his power to gut the Affordable Care Act and overturn Roe v. Wade. His opinions regarding the invincibility of the president terrify me,” wrote Livia Kunins-Berkowitz ’22 in an email to the Orient. She was one of over 100 protesters arrested by Capitol Police on Monday. “And now it is clear that Brett Kavanaugh is a liar and a sexual predator.”
The students’ travel expenses and bail funds were crowndfunded through the Be A Hero campaign, a group led by activist Ady Barkan.
Stephen Boe ’22 took part in a legal observer training also organized by Be A Hero and spent Monday acting as an observer during the arrests of his fellow students.
“I felt like this was something that I needed to be a part of,” said Boe. “It was more than just a political view, it was a moral calling. Not only did I disagree with Kavanaugh’s views on abortion, climate change, executive power … but the allegations against him pushed the case way over the edge: these voices needed to be heard and they needed to be listened to.”
Emily Olick-Llano ’20 flew to Washington yesterday to protest outside Kavanaugh’s hearing and this morning’s vote.
“It was an immense privilege to be here and witness so many people—especially women—from different backgrounds rallying together to support Dr. Ford while she testified and to stand in solidarity with her and other survivors,” Olick-Llano wrote in a text to the Orient.
Olick-Llano and Risa Fox ’20 were arrested on Thursday while protesting outside the Supreme Court.
Micah Wilson ’22, who was also arrested, stressed the importance of civil disobedience.
“I think [civil disobedience] is more important than ever today because it disrupts our comfortable routine,” Wilson wrote in a text to the Orient. “As a culture and politically, people are generally pretty content with the status quo. We need to feel more uncomfortable to realize what kind of change is necessary and possible.”
Bowdoin students were unable to complete their main goal of speaking with Collins—an important swing vote for the Kavanaugh nomination—but they did meet with Maine’s other Senator, Angus King (I-Maine), as well as add to the pressure on Collins to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination.
“My 24 hours spent in D.C. were incredibly empowering,” wrote Kunins-Berkowitz in an email to the Orient. “We met with amazing activists and Senator Angus King to discuss different ways to create change. Overall, 128 people were arrested and the action received national media coverage. Hopefully, this will compel Susan Collins to at least consider voting no.”
Editors Note, 9/28/2018 at 4:47 p.m.: An earlier version of this article stated that the protesters’ travel expenses and bail were covered by Mainers for Accountable Leadership, the Women’s March organization and the Center for Popular Democracy, and their itineraries were coordinated by Be A Hero. The funding came from Be A Hero, which and an outgrowth of the Center for Popular Democracy. The students coordinated with the other organizations but did not receive financial support.