Catholic University Students Demand Resignation of Dean over Kavanaugh Tweets

By en:Image:CUA Mall.jpg, uploaded by Briancua 17:24, 24 May 2006, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

CUA President painted the victim to be a perpetrator

Students of Catholic University of America protested on October 1, voicing their objection to William C. Rainford, a dean who through social media questioned sexual assault allegations against Brett M. Kavanaugh , the nominee to the Supreme Court. Over 100 students and university alumni assembled on the campus grounds to press for dignity for sexual assault survivors and complete rejection of all victim-blaming forms. They demanded Rainford's resignation.

William C. Rainford is dean of the National Catholic School of Social Service. His tweets, the protesters alleged, not only mocked a campus sexual assault survivor, but also painted a scenario where the victim could be a perpetrator. The tweet at the center of the storm concerned Julie Swetnick, the third alleged victim of Kavanaugh’s sexual misconduct. As per her claims, Swetnick was subjected to gang-rape in a house party held during the earlier years of the 1980s. Kavanaugh was an invitee too. Rainford, in his tweet, wrote that Swetnick is 55-years-old and Kavanaugh is 52. He implied that such a scenario could not happen as she was a senior. Women, as per his understanding, do not drink with younger men, and since she admitted to sex with underage boys, Swetnick is the perpetrator and her assailants the victims.

The backlash was quick, with the contents of the tweet being decried by both students and alumni. Several students walked out of their classes in protest. Authorities swiftly acted. John Garvey, the President of the CUA, sent an email to all those attached to the university that he has already suspended Rainford for the remaining semester, saying that the remarks concerning Swetnick demonstrated a clear absence of sensitivity towards the victim. The President wrote that the dean's tweet written during the last week of September cannot be accepted under any circumstances. He said that any tweet made by staff should be thoughtful and constructive. Any social media communication made through the official account handle @NCSSSDean should mirror the values of the Catholic University of America.

The tweet has since been deleted by Rainford. The latter has publicly apologized for his actions. Demonstrators were not satisfied with the quantum of the punishment. They said mere suspension cannot be enough. Some protestors held hashtag embedded signs like #notmydean. Another urged him to begin believing in survivors and not mock them on social media.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter