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FOCUS: Brett Kavanaugh's Former Roommate Describes Their Debauched Dorm at Yale
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=49201"><span class="small">Lisa Miller, The Cut</span></a>   
Thursday, 27 September 2018 10:51

Miller writes: "Kavanaugh and his crowd, whom Winter characterizes as 'loud, obnoxious frat boy-like drunks' were the hardest drinkers on campus even back then, when hard drinking did not hold the stigma it does today."

Vanderbilt Hall stands on the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut.
Vanderbilt Hall stands on the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut.

Brett Kavanaugh's Former Roommate Describes Their Debauched Dorm at Yale

By Lisa Miller, The Cut

27 September 18

n the fall of 1983, three weeks into his freshman year at Yale, Kit Winter switched dorm rooms. He had been sharing a room on the fourth floor of Lawrance Hall, entryway D, with a kid from Rhode Island named James Garman. But Garman was studious and Winter liked to stay up late, and they had heard about an unoccupied single in the basement. So they cooked up a scheme to tell the dean that they weren’t getting along, and Winter moved down to LD01, a three-man suite, where two rooms opened up onto a large living area. Winter took over the empty single. The double was already occupied. James Roche, who has publicly supported Deborah Ramirez in her account of being sexually threatened by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, lived there. And so did Kavanaugh himself.

Winter immediately noted the cold, alienated dynamic in LD01; the place was profoundly inhospitable even by 1980s college standards. “It was a dungeon space,” recollects Garman, now an organic farmer. “It was dark and it was cellar-like, and it was thoroughly creepy.”

And while on the first floor of entryway C, a group of guys had gotten together some furniture and a big-screen TV, creating a gathering place for people who liked to watch sports, the living room down in LD01 remained entirely unfurnished except for an old keg — “and I think there was also a broken floor lamp much of the time,” Winter recalls. “And as you might expect in a sizable empty room, there were a lot of dust balls and Solo cups and trash on the floor. It was not an inviting space. It was pretty grim.” The environment was disturbing enough that Winter mentioned it to his high school friend Itamar Kubovy, who also ultimately went to Yale. “I remember Kit saying how uncomfortable it was, how creepy it was,” Kubovy recalls. [Editor’s note: Winter, Kubovy, and I went to high school together in New Haven, and Winter’s family and mine were friends.]

Especially disgusting was the shared bathroom, which was always covered in vomit. Kavanaugh and his crowd, whom Winter characterizes as “loud, obnoxious frat boy-like drunks” were the hardest drinkers on campus even back then, when hard drinking did not hold the stigma it does today. In a statement earlier this week, Roche recalled Kavanaugh “frequently drinking excessively and becoming incoherently drunk,” and Winter corroborates that recollection. “There was a lot of vomit in the bathroom. No one ever cleaned it up. It was disgusting. It wasn’t incidental. It wasn’t, ‘Oh, this weekend someone puked in the bathroom.’ People were constantly puking in the bathroom. Constantly.” Lori Adams, a retired psychiatrist in Underhill, Vermont, was a friend of Winter’s at Yale. “I remember,” she says, “that you couldn’t use the bathroom because his roommates vomited all over the floor and didn’t clean it up.” (Winter clarifies that Roche wasn’t much of a drinker and that although he himself drank a fair amount during freshman year, he very rarely drank to the point of throwing up.)

The social dynamic within the triple was nonexistent to the point that Winter felt uncomfortable. From the start, Winter and Kavanaugh barely acknowledged one another’s existence. He remembers no conversation between them. Kubovy, still in high school at the time, sometimes visited Winter’s dorm room. “It’s weird never saying hello to one of your two roommates,” he says, in retrospect. (Several years later, Dana How lived next door to Kavanaugh, and his recollection is similar. Kavanaugh and his roommates “didn’t talk to anybody,” How remembers. “They were completely antisocial. The door was closed. These guys were completely disconnected.”) In LDO1, Kavanaugh and Roche were also very nearly strangers, according to Roche’s statement; “Brett and I did not socialize beyond the first few days of freshman year.” (Roche moved out in December of that year.)
Once in a while Winter and Roche would talk late at night, sitting on the floor in the double, “leaning with our backs against the beds,” Winter remembers. “For the last 35 years, if anybody had said, ‘Tell me about Jamie Roche,’ I would have said, ‘Jamie Roche is the most stand-up guy you would ever hope to meet.’ Jamie stood out as centered, mature — more of a gentleman than the frat boys. He had nice manners.”

Many of the residents of Lawrance Hall that year describe the social life on campus as extremely tribal and isolating, with the elites and legacies hanging with each other, dominating and creating ripples of inarticulate fear, while the outsiders — the nerds and the scholarship kids and the people of color — circled the outskirts seeking friendly alliances. The fraternity brothers at Delta Kappa Epsilon — to which Kavanaugh pledged — could be heard in the streets at night chanting. “There was always more than a strong whiff of sexual violence hanging over the Dekes all the time,” says Garman. Dana How recalls consciously deciding to stay away from one of Kavanaugh’s frat brothers — he can’t now remember the reason why.
Another person, who arrived at Yale from a working-class background, remembers encountering the upper levels of the social hierarchy for the first time and understanding them as “dangerous.” “I remember thinking, ‘Oh, you’ve got to be really careful around these people.’ I saw it through a class lens. I don’t want to be somebody’s little mouse. I don’t want to be somebody who gets eaten. Looking back, I perceived things as dangers rather than, ‘Oh, fuck. This is crazy.’ Back then, it was sort of a game where there had to be some way to play it where you weren’t a victim.”

All of which may go some way to explaining why the atmosphere in LD01 was so silent and charged. Kit Winter is gay. He had come out to his parents the same year he entered Yale, and lived on his own on and off for months, including — during the summer before college — in New York City on the Lower East Side. He had multiple piercings in his ears and wore a motorcycle jacket and his hair in a punkish pouf. People remember him as visible and strong — “he wore his soul on his sleeve,” says someone who dated him at the time. So it is perhaps not too surprising that he and Kavanaugh, the jock from Georgetown Prep, failed to connect. “Jocks were often the anathema of gay people at Yale at the time,” says Adams. “They didn’t treat them well. I had gay friends who were stalked, followed home, their doors beaten in, things like that.”

Winter adds that at that moment in his life, he was inclined toward isolation. He would eventually become a student leader at Yale and, during the early years of the AIDS crisis, a visible gay activist. But as an 18-year-old freshman, he was still working things out, and disdainful of the sheltered, privileged people who dominated his environment. “I was out, but I was still a little alienated. I was not really a joiner, I don’t think. Yale was not a particularly gay-friendly environment, but I was also not a particularly friendly person. I looked alienated. I felt alienated. I drank a lot.”

What is surprising, however, especially in light of today’s priority on hearing and empowering the voices of society’s underclasses, is the extent to which Winter and all the alienated kids who arrived on Yale’s Old Campus (where all the freshmen live) in the fall of 1983 regarded the social structures and their places in it as normal and expected. Winter felt that his own discomfort, the essential weirdness of his living situation, was barely worth mentioning. “At the time, my response to most stuff was to listen to more punk rock music and to have a scotch. I felt very abandoned. You could have thrown rocks at me and I would have kept my head down and kept walking.” Winter did tell his friends about his living situation. “I remember that Kit was really unhappy with his roommates,” says Lori Adams. “They were jocks and Kit was an out gay man with peroxide blond hair. He was uncomfortable there. And he didn’t spend much time there.” But he didn’t tell anyone with any authority to change things. Winter had already cashed a chit to move to the desired single, and he didn’t want to irritate the dean with complaints.

Which is why Winter didn’t say anything when he came home one day that fall to find a dead pigeon nailed to his door — not on the front door of the suite, but on his own bedroom door. “It wasn’t rotten or anything. I assumed that someone found a dead bird on the ground,” he says. “I interpreted it as an act of social hostility slash terrorism. I thought it was a very clear message. ‘We don’t like you, and we don’t want you here.’ I didn’t know who it was who didn’t want me here. I didn’t know who had done it.” Again, Winter didn’t tell authorities or administrators and he didn’t call the police. He didn’t try to figure out who had done it — though as someone who lived in Lawrance that year points out, it was done by someone with serious intent: “The doors were really dense wood. It would take some real hammering to get a pigeon nailed to that door.”

Winter threw the bird away, and told a few friends, and the story circulated, as stories do. “I think my general response was, screw you. I’m not going anywhere,” he says. But what’s remarkable now is how little a dent it made in the memories of Winter’s friends or the other people in his dorm, as if such targeted attacks were just part of the everyday. “I remember this moment of hostility around the bird,” says Kubovy, “but it’s all part of the blur.” By email, Roche confirms that he also vaguely remembers the pigeon.

But the incident, and that whole tense and silent year, have forced Winter to think a lot about the nature of memory, especially during a time of intense emotional development and heavy drinking. “I have thought a lot about Kavanaugh’s statement on Fox, that he never drank so much that he didn’t remember what he had done the next morning. And having witnessed the level of drunkenness of Brett and his crew in that dorm, and the vomitous aftermath in the bathroom, I find that very hard to believe. I was not a blackout drinker, but there’s tons of stuff I don’t remember because I was drinking a lot, frequently. Anybody who drank a lot in college and can stand up 35 years later and say, ‘I am sure that did not happen’ inherently lacks credibility to me.”

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Last Updated on Thursday, 27 September 2018 11:18


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+48 # ddd-rrr 2018-09-27 14:02
I listened to Dr. Ford's testimony this morning in the Senate,
and this afternoon (as I write this), Kavanaugh's sniffling
delivery of his "sales-job". One had nothing to gain
from what she said; the other has a life-time
VERY IMPORTANT post to occupy
if he is confirmed.

Which of these opposing stories would you tend to believe...?

+50 # HarryP 2018-09-27 14:47
A minor point. Kavanaugh told Fox New he had perhaps acted immaturely at times while in high school, but his drinking had been legal since the minimum age in Maryland was still eighteen. But since he graduated when he was still seventeen, all his drinking (including his quest to drimk 100 kegs of beer during his senior year) had been in violation of the law.
The same was true of his drinking at Yale - the topic of this article. He arrived in 1982 as a seventeen year old and it was that year Connecticut raised the minimum age to nineteen - thus extending his illegal debauchery for another year.
Otherwise, he was a choir boy - as his parents and the Jesuits had taught him to be.
If the allegations of attempted rape and rape are true, Kavanaugh may be closer to a prison term that a seat on the Supreme Court. In Maryland, there is no statute of limitations for these crimes.
+65 # ddd-rrr 2018-09-27 15:18
Watching more of Kavanaugh's "performance", it does appear to me
that regardless of ANY other consideration, this candidate for
this important post is not temperamentally suitable
for holding a post as a judge on ANY court!
+41 # pmargaret7 2018-09-27 15:24
Wow, quite an impactful story - makes me very glad I went to a large public university where the elite could be avoided very easily! They always exist, alas, but you barely had to know each other because there were so many options for friends and/or company. I actually feel rung thru the ringer just imagining that washroom! The "haves" were probably used to having their messes cleaned up by someone much lower on the social/class order, and bigger problems cleaned up by money and their parents! Privilege is ugly, especially since the privileged feel no obligation to others who have not lived in their swirl! Boy I'm glad to be middle-classed!
+22 # pmargaret7 2018-09-27 15:27
BTW - how about all of you chipping in to help RSN! It is very nice to read all of our options without any blastings from the capitalist world of advertising! GIVE.
+22 # kgrad 2018-09-27 19:40
Quoting pmargaret7:
BTW - how about all of you chipping in to help RSN! It is very nice to read all of our options without any blastings from the capitalist world of advertising! GIVE.

I'm retired, living on a fixed income, but I've been making an automatic monthly donation for several years. RSN is my go-to for articles worth reading.
+8 # bird 2018-09-28 05:27
I'm retired, living on a fixed income, but I've been making an automatic monthly donation for several years. RSN is my go-to for articles worth reading

Me, also.
+6 # Jim Young 2018-09-28 14:44
My wife and I are retired and on fixed income, but she has been donating $30 a month every month we can afford it (not automatically).

It is very rare to ever miss a month, like we did last month, as we flew up north to help out in post-operation transportation and medical follow up.
+42 # DongiC 2018-09-27 18:16
Corrupt to the core, the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee backed their sniveling, rude, obstructionist nominee to the Supreme Court unanimously. Kavanaugh quakes at the idea of an independent FBI investigation. His belligerent attitude toward Democratic senators indicates he has much to hide. I can see why Trump finds him so loveable, he lies and seduced woman when he was young. Plus, he washes it all down with beer and god knows what else. Ford, on the other hand, was magnificent. She is a fine citizen well award of her civic duty. What a contrast.
+45 # Luara June 2018-09-27 19:28
ddd-rrr -
My thoughts exactly!!! Beyond the sexual allegations, this man is too emotionally fragile for the Supreme Court. He feels soooo sorry for himself
+4 # dquandle 2018-09-29 21:24
Once he gets in and gets the sadism machine fully up and running full swing, he won't feel sorry for himself, and his fragility will never again be tested. It'll all be hunky dory once he's back in the driver's seat.
+42 # CEB 2018-09-27 19:46
Another important and telling article. For those of us who watched the testimony of both Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh today it’s obvious who is telling the truth. Ford was collegial , not belligerent, willing and cooperative with members on both sides and with the Prosecutor, and altogether with appropriate affect throughout. Kavanaugh was petulant belligetant, didn’t answer the questions, and kept repeating the facts of his track record and evidence attesting to his sterling reputation. The line that kept going through my mind is he doth protest too much. What stood out for me was the evident classism and social bias in his non diverse set of friends. Only girls of different ethnic backgrounds as well as the wrong schools appear to have been singled out. The all white male members presiding over the hearing today also appear to be groomed in this tradition so failed to detect this social split in his behavior. This article lays this out clearly. Having attended one of the approved girls Catholic schools mentioned during his testimony and having had family at Georgetown prep albeit a generation earlier, I can happily report that for most of us we grew beyond such narrow strictures, and in some cases did not hold such attitudes to start with. It’s difficult not to conclude at minimum he is a narrow minded bigot who mistreated and distained those not among his social milieu, and at worst committed criminal acts, neither of which would qualify him for a seat on the Supreme Court.
+18 # Good4Glenn 2018-09-28 07:39
I learned to drink beer in the USNavy in 1952 at age 21. A Christian, at that time, I also thought drinking was a sin. Drinking and sex that followed during 2 years in southeast Asia brought years of guilt and shame. Why is there no appearance of guilt, shame or remorse in the statements of Brett Kavanaugh? Drinking alcohol and having sexual intercourse, cunnilngus and fllatio are typically legal adult behaviors unless there is social conventions or age limits. Kavanaugh, at his age, was violating laws and social norms of morality while in High School and at Yale. If he can't admit to his illegal adolescent behavior, how can he be a respected judge?
+12 # lorenbliss 2018-09-28 15:22
Perhaps the most important aspect of these hearings is how they (again) reveal the arrogantly hateful moral imbecility of our white ChristoNazi overlords -- those obscenely wealthy, viciously misogynistic men Jeff Sharlet exposes as the real USian Ruling Class.

Wake up, people, and read your Marx: this is Class War in its ultimate U.S. form: the sadistic white ChristoNazi Capitalist aristocracy against all the rest of us, most especially women, LGBTQ people, people of color and let us not forget anyone else of any race or gender who dares resist Capitalism's final Nazification of our nation.

(Yes I believe Kavanaugh will be confirmed no matter what, and yes I believe the resultant outrage will at long last push hitherto-undeci ded USian women into becoming a truly revolutionary vanguard.)
+9 # NAVYVET 2018-09-29 11:13
Once again, I wish that the Repubs could be forced (with head pliers if necessary) to watch JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG in its entirety--an indictment of the failures of the German judiciary in the Nazi era, either through their own fascist leanings or fear.
A bunch of us, all junior Navy officers, saw it together and then most of us went to someone's room in the BOQ, where we all lived, and discussed every major and minor point of it. This film was a life-changer. It made me consider my own courage (or lack) and helped me decide to resign when the war in Vietnam grew bloodier and more futile.
+9 # elkingo 2018-09-29 14:28
The single thing that pissed me off the most, was when a network commentator - a woman no less - called Ford "girlish". I didn't see "girlish". I saw a mild mannered, conscientious, decent, intelligent highly accomplished woman, absolutely scared witness by her proximity to the "big boys" - the US Senate and by extension SCOTUS, and the ravages of the yob redneck fascist Nazi core of this country. Both can hurt you. She is a hero, a profile in courage, as someone suggested. A humanly attractive woman. If pig Kavanaugh gets crow-barred into the Court,God help all of us. Look for tanks in the street, and look to oppose them.
+2 # DongiC 2018-09-30 09:32
Wow, elkingo. I agree with you completely. Kudoes to you and to so many brave commenters on this thread.
+2 # suzyskier 2018-09-30 15:30
Elk I go, I too agree with you 100%. It’s shameful that our grandfathers and fathers sacrificed so much to end Fascism in Europe only to have it show up here in the White House and the Republican Party! We must fight against this Evil with all we have. Trump is no better than Hitler, his choice of victims are those of color and liberals. The Nazis got rid of liberals too.
+3 # dquandle 2018-09-29 21:18
"What is surprising, however, especially in light of today’s priority on hearing and empowering the voices of society’s underclasses,.."

priority? what f-ing priority?
+4 # johnescher 2018-09-30 07:40
Hey Lindsey, I don't wanna boofer turning the Supreme Court into a vomitorium.