Opinion: National events need to break through our Claremont bubble

Graphic by Emma Li

CW: sexual assault

Sept. 28 was a whirlwind I’ll never forget. Over the span of 12 hours, the country watched as a Supreme Court nominee and his accuser testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

It was heart-wrenching; Christine Blasey Ford’s harrowing account of sexual assault at the hands of a young Brett Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, dramatically clashed with Judge Kavanaugh’s repeated denials and pleas of innocence.

As a result of her lasting trauma and paranoia from the attack, Ford said she installed two front doors.

Kavanaugh’s primal cries of indignation were forceful, if not hysterical. No matter whom you believed, both accounts were compelling.

I would venture a guess that the majority of 5C students were able to take in the events of the day as they were ongoing. I was not.

By the time my 9:35 a.m. class rolled around, Ford had barely made it halfway through her testimony. As is always the case (with the exception of rare and extenuating circumstances), I went to class.

Luckily, it was physical education, so I listened to the hearing while participating in my physical activity of the day.

The three-hour time difference will inevitably have an impact on our ability to participate in events occuring on the East Coast. But, as a collective community, we should work to minimize the effect of this timezone delay.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid most students were unable to do the same as I was and absorb Ford’s testimony Thursday morning. In the afternoon, I had to attend classes and was only able to catch glimpses of Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony during breaks.

Except in instances in which I personally brought up the day’s events in class, there was not even a mention of it.

This is wrong.

Continuing on with daily student life while world-altering, historic events are taking place just a phone’s tap away not only does a disservice to us as students, but as members of society. We ought not to be educating ourselves in a vacuum.

One of my professors was an outlier. Commenting the day following the hearing, he said, “There are things much larger than this class happening right now.”

He was right. Classes should not have continued on as normal. Had I had this professor’s class on Thursday, it very well might not have.

Beyond politics classes, physics, dance, and economics alike should be put on hold to focus on such momentous and extremely consequential events.

I recognize there are other concerns to focusing our class time on this particular event. More than just issues of time and schedule, the hearings can force individuals to relive trauma.

Without a doubt, it is just as important to make sure all discussions of traumatic occurrences are framed respectfully and with that in mind.

Nevertheless, it is unacceptable to fail to discuss or engage with difficult subject matter, particularly when it’s this important, out of fear of the anguish it may cause some students. A cautious approach can alleviate much discomfort and benefit the rest of the class as well.

Although the hearings are not directly related to some classes, it is even more important to pause regular activity and turn our attention to a flashpoint in American history and, therefore, our own.

A STEM major is not absolved of the same duty to society. It may be even more essential to disrupt those classes — for each student, regardless of what the individual is studying, must be treated as if this directly impacts the individual’s life, because it does.

The Supreme Court is not an abstract institution. In addition to shaping the direction of this country, its nine members shape our lives. To witness and influence the confirmation of one of its members is to mold our own future.

Ford stated it was her civic duty to come forward as a survivor to tell her story. It’s our duty to listen.

Zachary Freiman PO ’20 is a music and public policy analysis double major from Sleepy Hollow, NY. He seeks retribution for Merrick Garland in everything he does.

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