Courtesy of Laurel Raymond
Almost four weeks after Christine Blasey Ford testified against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh ’87 LAW ’90, quotations from the Senate testimony were found spray painted on the steps outside Yale Law School’s main entrance, on the doors of Lawrance Hall on Old Campus and on the sign of Sprague Hall Monday morning.
Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University, accused Kavanaugh of assaulting her during a high school party. In her testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ford detailed her account of the alleged incident, describing how Kavanaugh and his friends were laughing as she was “underneath one of them.”
On Monday, students also woke up to campus bulletin boards plastered with posters reading, “Yale is complicit.” Both events come amid a University-wide conversation about sexual misconduct instigated by the allegations against Kavanaugh and his confirmation as a Supreme Court justice just two and a half weeks ago. The quotes have since been removed, but the posters remain on the boards. It is unclear who painted the quotes and hung the posters.
“We’re not aware of when this happened, but the university police were notified,” said Yale Director of External Communications Karen Peart in an email to the News Tuesday night. “Any graffiti will be removed because the university’s free expression policies do not permit the defacement of university property.”
Ramis Wadood LAW ’21 said he thought the graffiti served as a “powerful reminder” that the conversation about Kavanaugh and the state of the U.S. judicial system is not yet over.
“I don’t think the momentum has gone anywhere,” Wadood said. “I think students are still very eager to have the conversation, eager to keep the movement going forward as far as holding the judiciary accountable for the direction it’s going. That conversation about the state and the future of the judiciary is not going to go anywhere anytime soon.”
Laurel Raymond LAW ’20 shared photos of the graffiti on Twitter Monday morning. She said that when she saw the graffiti, she “doubled back” to take a photo — even though she was late to class. Raymond’s tweet had more than 10,000 retweets and 35,000 likes as of Tuesday evening.
Raymond noted that the quote at the Law School’s entrance was particularly significant, as the front of the Law School serves as a symbol for the institution.
“Something about the permanence of paint speaks to how deeply betrayed and disappointed people feel,” she said in an email to the News.
According to a tweet from Tom-Tsvi Jawetz LAW ’03, the graffiti at the Law School entrance was removed as early as 10:40 a.m. on Monday.
The Law School did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday afternoon.
The graffiti was spread throughout the University. “I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me,” was painted at the bottom of the sign of Sprague Memorial Hall, one of the Yale School of Music buildings.
Mackenzie Dilbeck, director of communications for the School of Music, said that the graffiti on the Hall’s sign was discovered on Monday morning when School of Music employees arrived to work and reported the paint. Dilbeck said that the School of Music “follows University protocols and policies when property is defaced.”
Thus, the graffiti has since been removed.
The Ford quote painted on the doors of entryway D of Lawrance Hall, Kavanaugh’s residence during his first year at Yale, read, “I have had to relive my trauma in front of the entire world.”
Deborah Ramirez ’87 — who attended Yale with Kavanaugh — claimed in a September New Yorker article that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a suite party in entryway B of the Old Campus building.
Reilly Johnson ’22, a current resident of Lawrance Hall, said that, while she was surprised to see “actual paint on actual buildings,” she did not think the graffiti damaged the building “too much.”
“I think it’s more important that people are forced to notice, and, if what you have to do is spray paint because covering the bulletin boards isn’t enough — and clearly that’s not enough — then that’s what you’ve got to do,” Johnson said.
She called the spray paint a “vivid reminder” that a strong connection between Kavanaugh and Yale remains even today.
Nicholas Christakis — the Yale sociologist and physician who resigned his post as master of Silliman College after getting caught up in the race-related controversy of the fall of 2015 — posted several tweets Monday evening condemning the graffiti.
“PSA. Destroying property is not free speech,” Christakis wrote. “If you disagree, think about how the *content* of the words would affect your opinions about the rectitude of this. And, for the record, I found Ford totally credible.”
One minute later, he followed up the tweet with a suggestion: “PS. Use chalk next time.” Christakis could not be reached for comment.
Kavanaugh was confirmed in a 50–48 Senate vote.
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