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Thursday, November 30, 2023

I don’t know Brett Kavanaugh. I’ve met several men who fit the description Kavanaugh’s college roommate and accusers have given, but I don’t know Kavanaugh, and I won’t pretend to know what the content of his character is.

But I do know Christine Blasey Ford. Because I am Ford. And you are, too. One in five women are assaulted in college, one in 13 men. So, if we do a little math, about 3,500 undergraduate women and 1,200 undergraduate men at UF are survivors of sexual violence.

The majority of these assaults will never be reported.

The vast majority of campus sexual assault victims, a decent portion of the student population, will carry this with them the way Ford carried it with her. For the rest of their lives, they will feel anxious and struggle to cope with the trauma.

Maybe, like Ford, three decades from now they will be able to open up to a therapist. Maybe, like Ford, they are white and affluent. Maybe they’ll have access to counseling and support after the assault.

But maybe not. And whether or not they report, they exist. They walk among us like ghosts. Unless we drastically change our campus culture in the immediate future, they will never report.

On Wednesday, the Inspire Party lost an election running on a platform that took steps to address campus rape culture by introducing an online platform to encourage reporting. Inspire even had a plan to give UF assault survivors what Ford wasn’t given, anonymity and protection.

Hundreds of Fords are walking around every day. They’re studying at Library West. They’re walking through the Reitz Union. They’re sitting next to you in class. We must protect them.

The RAINN 24/7 Sexual Assault Hotline is 800-656-HOPE (4673).

Savannah Gribbins is a first-year at UF Levin College of Law.


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