A group of faculty, students and alums at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill are nominating Christine Blasey Ford for a Distinguished Alumna Award after she testified before a Senate panel about her sexual assault allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Citing the “courage it took for her to take the moral and ethical stand that she did in testifying about her sexual assault experience in front of the world,” a letter from English professor Jennifer Ho nominates Ford for the award.
The U.S. Senate confirmed Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court Saturday with a 50-48 vote and he was sworn in that night in a private ceremony.
Ford graduated from Carolina in 1988 with a degree in psychology.
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Ho started to share the letter Friday, later creating an online form so faculty, students and alums could sign on to Ford’s nomination. Ho said Monday afternoon that more than 1,400 people had signed the letter, but not all of those signatures were real. Several signers listed their names as Donald Trump, Kanye West and Christine Blasey Ford.
In the nomination letter, Ho writes, “Dr. Blasey Ford giving her testimony, speaking truth to power, was an inspiration for so many of us. Her testimony prompted countless women to share their own stories of sexual harassment and assault.”
In an interview, Ho explained that she is hearing the same conversations about sexual assault now that people were having when she graduated from college in 1992. “We haven’t really moved the needle on the conversation around sexual assault,” she said, but she hopes that the Kavanaugh nomination and Ford’s testimony can help push the conversation.
“She did something really extraordinary,” Ho said. “She spoke the truth. She spoke her truth and did so under duress.”
Ho said she plans to collect signatures on the letter this week and submit the nomination Oct. 14. Alums can be recommended for the award by the UNC Chapel Hill Faculty Council and are approved by the university’s Board of Trustees.
The sole criteria for the award, the university notes, is that “Nominee has made an outstanding contribution to humanity in any walk of life.”
Ho said she did not expect the level of “trolling” she’s had with the petition. She said it was deleted several times and one person sent a link to the Rick Astley song “Never gonna give you up,” an internet prank known as “rickrolling.”
Charles Duncan: 843-626-0301, @duncanreporting