George Mason Students Protest Brett Kavanaugh Teaching A Summer Course
Despite Justice Brett Kavanaugh's claim that his name was "totally and permanently destroyed" by allegations of sexual assault that he denied, his judicial career continues. In addition to his work as a Supreme Court justice, the most recently appointed man on the court will also be spending some time in England this summer, teaching a class for George Mason University's law school. Soon after his course was announced, though, students started protesting Brett Kavanaugh teaching a summer class affiliated with their campus.
It was George Mason's undergraduate newspaper, The Fourth Estate, that first reported on Kavanaugh's appointment as "a distinguished visiting professor" at the the Antonin Scalia Law School. Included in this report was the fact that Kavanaugh wouldn't actually have a position on campus and would instead be teaching a summer course in Runnymede, England for a law school study abroad program. Still, an unnamed person told The Fourth Estate's they were surprised the school would be "willing to take this risk" of hiring a man accused of sexual assault in the midst of university efforts to crack down on sexual assault and harassment on campus. (Kavanaugh repeatedly denied all the allegations made against him.)
“I’m not anticipating a good reaction," the source told The Fourth Estate.
They were right on target, it turned out. A group called Mason for Survivors mobilized to argue for Kavanaugh's removal from the faculty. This included a petition, marches, and a number of students showed up at a meeting of the university's Board of Visitors last week, making measured pleas for Kavanaugh's appointment to be canceled.
“As a survivor of sexual assault, this decision has really impacted me negatively,” one student said at the meeting in video footage that was posted online, according to The Hill. “It has affected my mental health knowing that an abuser will be part of our faculty.”
The Support Mason 4 Survivors #CancelKavanaughGMU petition has garnered more than 3,500 signatures so far. The students also created forms that parents and alumni could sign to pledge that they wouldn't make any more donations to George Mason while Kavanaugh had a contract with the university.
The university doesn't seem likely to bow to student pressure in this case, however.
"It is a rare opportunity for students to learn from a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, and we believe that contributes to making our law program uniquely valuable for our students," a statement from the school read, according to CNN.
This isn't the first time since the allegations against Kavanaugh came out that his position at a law school has become controversial, as Politico noted. Just last fall, an outcry among students and alumni at Harvard Law School arose over Kavanaugh's position on the faculty there. But Politico reported that Kavanaugh had already announced that he wouldn't be able to fulfill his teaching obligations when the alumni voiced their disapproval.
"I love teaching law, but thanks to what some of you on this side of the committee have unleashed, I may never be able to teach again," Kavanaugh told Democrats during his congressional testimony. It looks like that prediction wasn't accurate.