Nearly three decades after Brett Kavanaugh attended Yale University, Joan Rhee said she was raped on Yale’s campus.
Rhee, 24, studied the history of medicine and graduated from the university in 2016. She said that Kavanaugh’s old fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE), embodied misogyny and rape culture on campus. DKE garnered national notoriety for engaging in offensive chants (“No means yes! Yes means anal!”) outside the university’s Women’s Center.
“It’s been pretty clear that that’s been a continuation since the eighties and since DKE was founded,” Rhee said.
Rhee was one of nearly a thousand protestors who rallied against Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court on Monday evening. Enraged demonstrators held signs and chanted in support of survivors of sexual violence.
Their grievances with Kavanaugh are many. If confirmed, the future of abortion rights may hang on his vote on the court and he has already previously noted his disinclined views towards Roe v. Wade in a 2003 memo.
Three women have also come forward with allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh during his time as a high school and university student. The charges culminated last week in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing during which Dr. Christine Blasey Ford asserted that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a party during high school. The FBI is currently investigating the allegations against Kavanaugh, delaying the vote on his Supreme Court nomination by one week.
“A lot of the things that have been mentioned about the culture within Yale or within other elite institutions really [resonated] with me as a sexual assault survivor, having experienced sexual assault on those campuses and having a lot of friends experience the same as well,” Rhee said.
The rally — organized by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the International Socialist Organization, International Women’s Strike, Socialist Alternative and others — began at Madison Square Park before making its way up 20 blocks to the Yale Club.
“We think this is a really consequential thing that’s happening and want to prevent it in any way possible,” said Devin McManus of DSA Electoral Working Group. “We’re going straight to the Yale Club to bring this to other people, white men of privilege in particular, to try to make it hit home and disrupt his personal networks.”
“The men in power want to put a sexual predator on the highest court of the land, but we are fighting back,” said DSA’s Alexandra Walling, addressing protesters.
After reaching the Yale Club, the protest proceeded to Grand Central Station, flooding the main concourse as tourists and commuters looked on.
“Because of the #MeToo movement, people have been a lot louder,” said Rhee. “People have been able to share information a lot faster and a lot more accurately. And I think that’s also been really meaningful in terms of survivors being able to come out and support each other.”
Photo: Activist march to the Yale Club in Midtown, Manhattan. Credit: Chelsey Sanchez.