CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Christine Blasey Ford’s name will stand among others nominated for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Distinguished Alumna Award.
Ford, who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in the 1980s, was put forth as a possible recipient by UNC-Chapel Hill Professor Jennifer Ho.
In the professor’s drafted letter of nomination, Ho writes that “what Dr. Blasey Ford did on September 27, 2018 was something that was extraordinary in how ordinary it was: she told the truth about a sexual assault she experienced when she was fifteen years old at the hands of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.”
Ford majored in psychology at UNC-Chapel Hill and graduated in 1988.
Ho shared the drafted nomination to invite the university faculty, staff, students and alumni to sign off on the nomination and sign their names in support.
It’s uncertain exactly how many signatures the nomination has received as many were deleted by an unknown person.
In one Google document hosted by Ho, the nomination has received more than 200 signatures.
The UNC-Chapel Hill community are also submitting signatures through a more secure Google form. The number of signatures submitted in this way is not public.
Ho said she plans to officially forward the nomination to the university on Sunday, Oct. 14.
In her letter, Ho writes that her nomination is not about “partisan politics.” Instead, she writes that it is about “recognizing that the simple act of speaking one’s truth, especially when that truth involves sexual assault, is an act of bravery.”
The professor describes Ford’s testimony as an an inspiration prompting other women to share their own stories of sexual harassment.
“By awarding Dr. Christine Blasey Ford as a distinguished alumna, UNC Chapel Hill sends a message to her, to our students, faculty, and staff, and to the larger community of the US and the world that we believe her—that UNC Chapel Hill believes survivors of sexual assault—and that we recognize the inordinate courage it took for her to take the moral and ethical stand that she did in testifying about her sexual assault experience in front of the world,” Ho writes.
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh swore in at the White House Monday evening. Kavanaugh earned 50 votes in favor of his confirmation by Senate to 48 against on Saturday.
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (BA, 1988) was a psychology major at UNC Chapel Hill, and we believe she should be recognized as a distinguished alumna. In many ways, Dr. Blasey Ford’s accomplishments are not particularly extraordinary: in addition to her BA from UNC Chapel Hill Blasey Ford has an MA from Pepperdine (1991) and PhD from University of Southern California (1996), both in psychology. She is widely published, works as a research consultant, and teaches at Palo Alto University. But what Dr. Blasey Ford did on September 27, 2018 was something that was extraordinary in how ordinary it was: she told the truth about a sexual assault she experienced when she was fifteen years old at the hands of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. She made a statement and then answered questions for over three hours in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee with the cameras of the world trained on her.
There may be people reading this nomination letter who will take issue with Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony or who may see this letter as an example of partisan politics.
But this letter nominating Dr. Blasey Ford is not about partisan politics: it is about recognizing that the simple act of speaking one’s truth, especially when that truth involves sexual assault, is an act of bravery. We live in a society that does not believe women. The many indignities that women experience in their day-to-day lives is proof of this, as is the continued attacks on Dr. Blasey Ford after her testimony. We know that people who are survivors of sexual assault do not experience justice for their trauma; we know that many of them choose not to report to the police and choose not to reveal their assault out of fear that they will not be believed.
Dr. Blasey Ford giving her testimony, speaking truth to power, was an inspiration for so many of us. Her testimony prompted countless women to share their own stories of sexual harassment and assault. She was nervous and anxious during the proceedings in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, just as any one of us would have been. She spoke clearly and precisely about her experiences with trauma, educating the committee and the rest of us about the way certain memories are encoded in the hippocampus when we experience traumatic events, while others fade away. She answered questions directly and forthrightly; she showed no evidence of avoidance or defensiveness. And she said she elected to come forward with her story out of a civic duty to tell the truth, not because she wanted to ruin anyone’s life or because she had a political agenda. As she told the committee, she is no one’s pawn.
Dr. Blasey Ford talked about how the first few years at Carolina were difficult for her—that her attack at the age of fifteen had lasting implications. And many of us were reminded about how a student who is struggling in school may be facing challenges that aren’t just found on our course syllabi. There were many lessons that we learned from Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony on September 27, 2018, and one of the most important ones was that any one of us can be extraordinary through the ordinary act of speaking our truth. Her accomplishment is to be an alumna of integrity, who despite great personal cost to herself and her family told her story of her sexual assault and emboldened others to also find the courage to speak out against injustice. Especially for those of us who are survivors of sexual assault or who know others who are survivors (which means all of us), Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony was an extreme act of bravery, making her a more than worthy recipient to be recognized as a distinguished alumna. By awarding Dr. Christine Blasey Ford as a distinguished alumna, UNC Chapel Hill sends a message to her, to our students, faculty, and staff, and to the larger community of the US and the world that we believe her—that UNC Chapel Hill believes survivors of sexual assault—and that we recognize the inordinate courage it took for her to take the moral and ethical stand that she did in testifying about her sexual assault experience in front of the world.