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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane students track Kavanaugh hearings, but at a distance

National media outlets lent their full attention to the emotional, and at times combative, testimony emerging in Washington, D.C., on Thursday during hearings into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s past and allegations of sexual assault.

For many in Spokane, however, the highly charged hearing – which ran through the middle of the afternoon, when most were either in class or at work – remained peripheral. College students who spoke to The Spokesman-Review on Thursday said while following the issue is important, the current climate of political negativity has made the ongoing process difficult to track.

Claire Barone, a sophomore communications major at Gonzaga, said she first learned about the allegations while writing a philosophy paper on news coverage of the process, but hadn’t followed the story since. She said national coverage of sexual assault is important, but she has a hard time watching media on those topics due to political division.

“People get riled up and defensive because of what happens in the news,” she said.“I’m kind of repulsed by it.”

Gonzaga student McKenzie Gallagher, a junior international relations major, said she watched portions of California professor Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony with her roommate before school, but hadn’t been following the issue closely before Thursday’s hearing. Like many students on campus Thursday, she said she hadn’t yet formed an opinion on the veracity of Ford’s allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when she was 15.

First-year Spokane Community College student Grace Opsanmi said she was in class during most of the hearings but has been following the process since President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Opsanmi, a Nigerian international student, said she feels the need to understand what’s happening in the government of whatever country she is in, and the hearings have made her anxious.

She said she believes Ford, and hopes the allegations will be investigated by the FBI as a criminal matter. If the accusations against Kavanaugh are taken seriously, she said, maybe more women will come forward.

“I think if this hearing goes well, it should give women courage to come out,” she said. “Otherwise, it will make women more afraid.”