Christine Blasey Ford: Taking a Stand Against Sexual Assault How Sexual Assault Cases Are Affecting the Women of Today Written By Jay Chontal
In a day and age where sexual assault and harassment are taken more seriously, it sure seems quite the opposite in spite of recent events. After the viral #MeToo movement, discussions about sexual assault have been on the rise, but nothing compared to that of the sexual assault case against, then nominated, now inducted Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Christine Blasey Ford shaking hands with sexual crime prosecutor Rachel Mitchell (Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times)
On September 27, Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor of psychology, came forward with her story of sexual assault. In front of a Senate Judiciary Committee, Ford was probed for hours, question after question, regarding her case of sexual assault by her accused perpetrator, Brett Kavanaugh. Ford composed herself to the best of her ability, without becoming too emotional or detached. In an emotional testimony, Ford provided saddening details of an account in which Kavanaugh made highly invasive moves in attempts to have sex with her. In the end, on the verge of tears, she told the committee, “I believed he was going to rape me,” letting the public know of the danger she truly felt that night.
By the end of of her testimony, Ford shared with the Judiciary that, “Brett’s assault on me drastically altered my life,” going to show that sexual assault goes farther than when it happened in the moment. Judge (at the time) Kavanaugh firmly denied all allegations brought upon him by Ford. After hours of questioning, and hours of yelling back at the Judiciary for a crime that he said he did not commit, Kavanaugh had made his point clear, yet there is a level of dissatisfaction.
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during the hearing on September 27, 2018 (Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times)
It took Ford 37 years to confront her attacker, in front of the entire country; something which many have seemed to take for granted. Throughout the years since her attack, she was “...afraid and ashamed to tell anyone these details. I did not want to tell my parents that I, at age 15, was in a house without any parents present drinking beer with boys.” Ford carried the pain of that experience for 37 years. In addition to the preliminary stigmas that are presented with sexual assault cases, Ford has been under attack for her testimony, receiving critique and even death threats from the rest of the country. It is most concerning to view Ford’s process of dealing with her traumatic experiences after stating, “I convinced myself that because Brett did not rape me I should just move on, and pretend that it didn’t happen.” As country that prides itself in representing the freedom of speech and freedom itself, the opposite is being portrayed to the public eye.
In regards to these events, the future does not hold a bright path for women to share their stories of their experiences with their attackers. History teacher, Laura Dalle-Valle, had her own take on the Ford testimony, sharing, “I think what’s most alarming is that we haven’t really grown too much as a country.” Clearly, negative reactions to the recent case highlight the efforts that the United States is taking to equally represent sexual assault cases; there is none. She also added, “...it seemed kind of like a flashback, where Anita was being targeted and attacked and mocked almost for like the issues that she had with Clarence and how nobody cared.” Dalle-Valle recalls a case with the same allegations from 1991, which very clearly mirrored the events with Ms. Ford’s testimony. Anita Hill, a law professor accused judge Clarence Thomas of sexually harassing her while she worked as his personal assistant. The case took the news by storm, and was one of the most publicized stories of sexual harassment within a work environment. It effectively changed the way that sexual misconduct was talked about throughout the country. While it was a first step in the right direction, the entire case as a whole was merely a joke in public eyes, even down to the questions that the Judiciary asked Hill during three days of trial, going as far as to say that she was mentally unstable. Heavy correlation between the events that happened with Hill are presented yet again with Ford’s case, as she received some of the same negative response. Cases such as these go to show the level of depth that each is taken in account for, and Dalle-Valle agrees as she says, “it just kind of goes to show how… character doesn’t really seem to count, it’s all about politics,” and also adds, “...what you do in your past doesn’t really matter, who you are doesn’t really matter, it’s your politics that matter.” Evidently, the message that the nation seems to be receiving is re-routing the path for future progress. As long as someone has politics on their side, then there is nothing to worry about. It becomes more apparent, especially, after Kavanaugh was promoted to Supreme Court Justice, even after an FBI investigation was conducted. Interestingly, his nomination was based on his character, as all Supreme court nominations are, which was in serious question after Ford’s testimony, but as Dalle-Valle indicated, his politics were not.
The future does not look bright in regards to women’s ability to share their experiences of sexual assault. After cases like this one, the paths of openly sharing are not safe, and as Dalle-Valle puts it, “a lot of women will look at what happened and will stay silent about what events happened to them.” Saddening, but the harsh reality is that in this day and age, where there is supposed to be an emphasis on truth and morality, women are not able to confide in anyone about their traumatic experiences. Patriarchy is maybe still to blame, even after events such as the #MeToo movement took the U.S. by storm, as many women shared the truths of many prominent members in various industries. On top of the less than significant progress made, Dalle-Valle contributes a defining point, offering that “that’s a big issue like for women, is if they come forward all lot of the times they are blamed for what happened instead of being seen as the victim.” Like previously, there is a lack of acknowledgement for the struggles that some women have to endure, and in most cases, hold onto that pain for an extended amount of time.
While progress is inevitable, with more women being brave and sharing their stories for others to be inspired from, it will be a slow. Ford’s testimony against Justice Kavanaugh was a setback for the overall mentality of the country, but change will come; with more emphasis on discussion about sexual assault cases like these being open instead of destructive. For now, does the same ideology hold true? Will the status quo remain still; with males with a political or elitist position in society, under the impression that sexually manipulating women is an acceptable action? Everything will be told in time.
College prep or just another high school? Written by Freedom Gobel
The name ‘Ronald Reagan College Preparatory High School’ screams many things loudly, particularly rigor, high achievement, and obviously, COLLEGE. If there’s anything IB students know, it’s how to answer open-ended questions. In a way, it’s become somewhat of a lifestyle, but there is one question left unanswered: To what extent do the suggestions in the school name prove to be true… Is Reagan, in reality, a college prep? Reagan, compared to the state of Wisconsin, consistently has a significantly higher average ACT score; The Class of 2018 pulled a 21.7 composite out of its back pocket while the state averaged a score of 18.8. According to numbers and rankings, Reagan shows academic excellence; however, preparing for college requires more than just course content. School climate and regulations are equally important, and according to the team of counselors representing the student body, one specific thing remains a concern: deadlines. Betsy McGinnity, Reagan counselor, explained, “Academically, students are well prepared, but much of the feedback we receive is that former students are less prepared for life.” Kon Knueppel, another counselor, completed the thought: “Students need to know that a deadline actually exists. That’s another common piece of feedback we get from graduates. In college, it’s actually due and you can’t retake it.” Reagan students are allowed a three week period to retake any form of evidence (tests) throughout the semester.
Montse Hernandez, a Class of 2018 graduate and current college student, said, “We were taught to pass the IB test. We weren’t taught anything useful outside of the IB.” Current Reagan seniors, experts on the Reagan high school experience, have some strong opinions on the subject:
Jerry Guevara stated that Reagan both is and isn’t a true college prep. “The high level of education and the things taught to us is very challenging, but Reagan doesn’t prepare us for self-management. We do things that aren’t allowed in college.”
Seniors Isaac Wells and Isabella Velazquez recognize a significant emphasis on college planning advantages at Reagan. Wells recalled, “Out of different pre-college and community based things I’ve been in, every time Reagan students have surpassed the majority of the other kids academically. These things have included my ACT classes, where the students from Reagan led most of the discussions.” Velazquez, a transfer student from a private school, remembers the change in school climate well. Per her experience, the “big talk” was all things college related from the beginning of sophomore year compared to the delayed preparations at Pius, “where they don’t talk about anything until the end of junior year.”
For many, this specific educational experience has its virtues and its vices, but for others, it’s difficult to find positive value in the system that “only creates stress for students at a time when grades and attendance are the most important.” To (senior) Joe Sujecki, “Ronald Reagan is by no means a college preparatory school.” According to him, Reagan and the IB curriculum are a sham. Furthermore, Sujecki said, “Many of my friends literally were broken last year by the weight of the IB curriculum. Keep in mind I’m a CC (Course Certificate) kid and I still feel the same stress.”
Early Release and Late Arrival policies are yet another topic to consider. Knueppel sees the flaws in the system as well as the potential. “I think Early Release can allow an opportunity to prepare for after high school by having a job, an internship, or something like that after school. But obviously, quite a few students don’t use this advantage. There are pluses and minuses to the system.” Success, agreed by all counselors, means creating a solid plan for after high school regardless of education plans, but college still remains a heavy pressure. Sarah Dubey, Reagan counselor, is a firm believer in the high achieving nature of the school. She claimed, “Students have come to us that have struggled in middle school and school wasn’t really their thing. This is definitely not the spot for them. They’ve got to be motivated to want something besides staying home on the couch. It’s very hard to get a seat here.”
MIDTERM ELECTIONS Written By Samia Ahmed
Midterm elections are held in the middle of the President’s four year term. During the Midterms, one third of the Senate, all members of the House of Representatives’ and number of Gubernatorial candidates go up for elections. The midterm elections can be seen as a referendum of the current president. This year that referendum was on Donald Trump.
Prior to the November 6th election Republicans held control of the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate. Historically the political party holds the White House and both chambers of Congress, that party tends to lose congressional seats during midterm election.
For example, prior to the 2010 midterm elections, the Democrats held the White House, House of Representatives and the Senate. But, after those elections, the political party lost 63 of its then 256 seats, thus having lost power of the House. A few historical exceptions of the power exchange were during 1934 (during the Great Depression), 1998 (Clinton trails), and 2002 (aftermath of 9/11).
This year, voters nationwide were encouraged to vote. Even in Reagan, the League of Women Voters, a non-partisan group, came in October to help register all who are eligible to vote. Ms. JoAnne Walsh, a representative of the organization, said, “The purpose of the league is to encourage people to be informed and active in our democracy.”
An issue that arises with the midterm elections is that not many people vote at all. Only 36.4% of eligible voters voted in 2014. It is also noted that there is an age gap between voters, as older voters tend to vote more often than younger people. It is speculated that younger voters tend to not vote during midterm elections because there isn’t much of a drive for them to vote.
Mr. Burger, advisor to the College and Career Center said, “A lot of Americans skip voting [in the midterm elections] because they think that it’s not the presidential election.” He also said that, another factor in the voting gap is that youth tend believe that “their vote doesn’t make difference.”
According to a Reagan Sophomore who was interviewed at breakfast, “...younger adults tend to not vote because there is a lack of voter excitement. People vote when they know that someone they like is on the ballot. In the past people voted because of national controversies like Watergate. Prior to the 2016, people didn’t vote because they didn’t feel like there was a need for it.”
Although there are is recent gap between voting of younger adults and older adults during the midterm elections, Burger believed that “social media is definitely a factor” in voter excitement. “The 2008 & 2010 elections were the first elections affected by social media.” Voters became excited with the youthfulness of Barack Obama. Although in the past few years, midterm elections have been notorious in their lack of voter turnout, it could be noted that the lack of turnout could be interpreted apathy or distrust of the system. It is the excitement generate this year that led to millions of more people voting this year than 2014, and it serves as a base for both political parties in the United States. Time will tell if the young vote will truly have an influence on the politics of our nation.
Hurricane Michael: And What You Can Do Written By Zeno Wilson
On October 10, 2018, the third largest hurricane to make landfall in the Continental U.S. devastated the Gulf of Mexico and the panhandle of Florida. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) approximate that there are about 4,153 square miles of destruction left by this debilitating storm. As of October 19th, there were 35 deaths caused by the hurricane, while many others still missing. The Florida Caverns Park was in one of the hardest hit areas. Park rangers are saying that 90% of the trees in this state park have been downed or destroyed. The day after the deadly hurricane, the park staff grabbed their tools and got to work clearing, chopping, and sawing.
One of the main groups responding to hurricane issues in Florida and the Gulf area is the American Red Cross. With millions of dollars in donations from gracious companies, groups, and people, they are on the scene providing first aid, transportation, food, shelter, and assistance to any who need it. Along with those selfless people, the citizens and city workers are also pitching in to clean up the debris. As well as helping others these brave civilians are trying to salvage their ravaged homes for any surviving items or belongings. Right now the country is coming together to fight off the fires in California, but Hurricane Michael still can’t be forgotten, there are still people out there whose houses have been demolished and whose lives are gone. With all of this havoc, loss, and sadness, what can we do to assist these communities? Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) states one of the best things other people can do for those in need is to donate money to organizations who go into disaster affected areas and help others, like the Red Cross. How Ronald Reagan High School and Milwaukee can help is by thinking about other people before themselves. Let’s say you and your friends are planning on going to see a movie, and it will cost twenty dollars. But if you took those twenty dollars and donated them to one of these disaster remediation organizations, you might miss out on your fun weekend plans. Although as a result of this, you might have just given someone the means to get their life back. One other essential contribution you could make is to donate blood. When natural disasters like these happen, someone getting the blood transfusion they need could make all of the difference.