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A High Schooler Reacts To Kavanaugh And Ford Hearings


This week, the nation came together and watched Christine Blasey Ford testify under oath about a sexual assault that she said occurred over 30 years ago when she was 15. It made us wonder how this emotional week resonated among this generation of high-school girls. Jessica Melnik is a high-school senior in Minnesota. And she wrote an opinion piece in the Huffington Post about what it was like to watch the Ford-Kavanaugh hearings. And she joins us now. Hi, Jessica.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: So what was it like to watch those hearings?

MELNIK: As a high schooler, it was incredibly hard to see our nation's leaders question how important it was to listen to a story that did happen 30 years ago. And it perpetuated this notion that boys will be boys, and things that happen in high school shouldn't matter later in life. And for the girls in high school and for myself included, it was really hard to hear that and have to deal with the fact that our nation's leaders don't think that the experiences that we have in high school and the things that we go through won't matter later in life.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So what has been the reaction among your peers to these hearings? I mean, what have people been saying?

MELNIK: Well, I think that both the young women and the young men in our school - a lot of them are really concerned about what is happening. And we did watch some of the hearings in our AP government class. And that was really powerful because we weren't here to watch the Anita Hill hearings. And so this is really a first time experience for us watching this. And I think a lot of students were really angry, if I'm going to be honest, about how this was all going. And this past Thursday, we actually organized a sit-in in light of what was happening at the national level but also to say that this is an issue that affects us at our high school and our state, as well.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You know, I'm hearing that, you know, Dr. Ford's testimony really touched you and others in your peer group. Were there any conversations, though, from other people who felt that Judge Kavanaugh was being treated unfairly?

MELNIK: I think that there were some. I think among some of the people who I've talked to about it who are of that thinking, they said that he wasn't getting due process. And he was just getting smeared. And this was all happening because of a certain political party or because people didn't want him to get confirmed to the Supreme Court. And so I think that those conversations that are also happening at the national level were seen in our high school, as well.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You have a younger sister.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: Are you hopeful that things will change for her, that there'll be more awareness of this issue?

MELNIK: I am hopeful. I think I was also hopeful when the #MeToo movement first came about. And a lot of students in my grade were also hopeful because of that. And I am hopeful that there will be another wave of the #MeToo movement or whatever it is when she gets older. But I am also worried that these conversations that happened years ago with the Anita Hill hearings and are happening now - it doesn't seem as though much has changed. And I think that part is really difficult for me to deal with. And I hope that she doesn't have to go through the same things. But I also am realistic in what I can hope for for her, as well.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Jessica Melnik is a senior in high school in Minnesota. Thank you very much.

MELNIK: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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