Starting at the beginning of third period on Monday, October 1, and ending after fourth period, students gathered to oppose the appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. During this time, students could contribute to two different videos being recorded: one consisting of short five-second statements, and the other consisting of longer 30-second interviews regarding either their thoughts about the Kavanaugh confirmation or their personal experiences with sexual harassment or assault. The Berkeley High School (BHS) Women’s Student Union (WSU) organized the protest to give students an outlet to express their frustration, opposition, and anger regarding the controversial Kavanaugh confirmation. BHS administration was accommodating.
When President Trump nominated Kavanaugh for Supreme Court, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford reported that Kavanaugh, along with a friend of his at the time, assaulted her at a party in high school. Her testimony did not convince the first Senate council to reject Kavanaugh’s confirmation, which has sparked national outrage.
Participants in the video wrote “Stop Kavanaugh” or “I am Terrified” on their right arm, and “We Believe Her” on their right palm. WSU Co-President Madison Lease, said, “It’s really important to present a united front that we do not support Kavanaugh.” Video Production teacher Phil Halpern allowed the organizers to use four video cameras and related equipment, supporting the action any way he could. “Kavanaugh could wind up on the Supreme Court for the next 45 years, and that’s not good,” said Halpern.
Participants in the short statement video were given sentence frames to express their thoughts, the main one being “Stop Kavanaugh because … .”
The WSU organized the protest, spending the weekend prior to spread the information and encourage people to participate. WSU Co-President Sophie Dua explained the importance of the demonstration.“If [Kavanaugh] gets confirmed, it’s going to be a big deal for all of us and really affect all of us.”
Late Monday night, the WSU released the short statement video, primarily edited by Maxime Hendrikse-Liu, who said, “The process was definitely exhausting, but it was exhilarating to be so involved … and very rewarding to develop such a powerful piece in a relatively short time.” Hendrikse-Liu, Dua, and Lease spent over six hours after school Monday editing and creating the video. The video, titled “Stop Kavanaugh” is available through YouTube, published by Women’s Student Union BHS, and has reached over 6,000 views within the first two days. The video received a range of comments, many in opposition.
“We would like to refute those that state that Judge Kavanaugh’s actions, as a high school student thirty-five years ago, are insignificant,” said Hendrikse Liu. She defined a goal as to “spread the video to the widest possible audience, sharing [BHS]’s support of Dr. Ford and sexual assault survivors everywhere and announcing our opposition to Brett Kavanaugh.”
Oscar Ashley, a member of the video film crew, explained why it is so important for boys to be involved. “The involvement of boys in yesterday’s events show that there are allies during a time when a man who is accused of sexual assault may serve on the Supreme Court,” he said. “The beauty and power of this video does not come from individual participants, but rather from the group as a whole.”
The organizers decided that a walkout was not appropriate for this situation. “It’s not really a good symbol to walk away from our education, and it has been in the past, and it’s awesome and powerful, but we didn’t think that this situation was the right situation to do that,” said Lease.
While some students missed class time, only a handful of students running the event missed the full school day. “This video accomplished the same goals [as a walkout] and resulted in less students missing class,” said Ashley.
Disclaimer: Eva Boas, Editor-in-Chief of the Jacket, was a director of the video released and a main organizer of the Stop Kavanaugh Protest.