“If the GOP has any brains from here on out, they’ll remind people they’re the party of letting you get drunk in college without it ruining the rest of your life.”
This is what Mark Hemingway, a senior writer at the Weekly Standard, said in response to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh allegedly sexually assaulting women while he was in high school and college. This line of thought — that one’s actions in young adulthood don’t “count” — existed before the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and will likely exist after.
Should a harmful act in college affect your life for years after?
The entire staff of the Foghorn agrees that one should be held accountable for their actions in college, and the Kavanaugh controversy is a case study in answering this question.
We at the Foghorn understand due process and that, in criminal proceedings, it is vital that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, Kavanaugh’s current circumstance is not a criminal proceeding; this is a job interview.
First, the Foghorn staff finds it important to acknowledge that Brett Kavanaugh isn’t applying for just any job — he is being nominated to serve as a Supreme Court Justice. He would be in one of the most powerful position in the country with a lifelong tenure. Considering the magnitude of Kavanaugh’s potential position, the angle at which we approach this issue shifts. You must unequivocally be a person who is capable of setting legal precedent on cases that can change the lives of the American people. You must have both sound moral judgement and a history of protecting people through the law — not harming them.
Second, the staff acknowledges that not all bad acts are the same. There is a difference between not hiring someone because they were accused of stealing food from the cafeteria and not hiring someone accused of sexual assault. There is never an excuse for sexual assault. It doesn’t matter if you or the victim was drunk, it doesn’t matter how young you were or how much of a “good guy” you consider yourself to be. The trauma associated with sexual assault is something that stays with victims for the rest of their lives. If your actions create a lasting negative psychological impact on someone’s life, then you too should live with the consequences.
Third, the excuse of being too young to know better is moot to the staff. College students are adults. We are expected to take responsibility for our actions. Saying that you were in college, and that this makes one less accountable, should not be a valid excuse. When we graduate university, we don’t magically become different people — the core of our character remains the same. Sexually assaulting a person is not just an action; it defines one’s moral character. If Kavanaugh did in fact assault these women, then it should not matter if he was in college when he did so.
People do dumb things in college. That is not a revelation. There are some actions that we are okay with forgiving in time, but none of the acts that Kavanaugh are accused of are among them.
Yes, we are still in the process of “growing up” while in college, but we should be held accountable for our actions — especially when they harm others.