For many University of Baltimore students watching Clarence Thomas rebut charges of sexual harassment today on TV, the real loser has been the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"I think it's mind-boggling that they would stoop to the level of bringing evidence out as flimsy as that is," said Jim Fischetti, 27, of Laurel, a senior.
"They are holding this honorable man to a standard they wouldn't hold themselves to."
Fischetti watched the start of today's hearing on a balky TV in Professor Patricia S. Atkins' political science class on the "American Presidency."
J. Arnold Lord, 22, of Laurel, a finance major and former chairman of a Republican student group on campus, watched with several dozen other students in a student lounge.
He called it "sad, overall, for the Senate, that this [allegation] was leaked. It makes the Senate look bad, and it makes the Judiciary Committee look bad."
"I can't believe we have people running this country that just can't keep things confidential," he said.
Lord said he believes the leak was engineered by Democrats "to discredit the man."
Debra Ross, 24, of Perryville, a junior majoring in psychology, said she does not support Thomas's nomination. But she, too, found it "a little fishy" that the allegations against him have surfaced so late in the confirmation process.
"It's taken away from what they should be dealing with -- what he stands for, and what his politics are," she said.
Allegations of sexual harassment should be taken seriously, most students agreed. But they differed in their reading of Hill's credibility.
"Granted, I am conservative," said Lord. "But if the allegations are true, they should be brought public . . . He doesn't deserve to sit on the Supreme Court if those things happened."
Debbie Hullen, 31, a pre-law student from Catonsville, said she believes Hill's allegations.
"Why would she come forward and bring this on herself if it wasn't true?" she asked. And "if the charges are true, I think people have a right to know, and I don't think he should be confirmed."
But Chris Suits, 31, of Baltimore, said: "Sexual harassment is not
well-defined. I don't think the average person really understands it. I think even if it [Hill's allegation] is proven to be true, he [Thomas] should still be confirmed."
"I'm not trying to be insensitive to the issue of sexual harassment," Suits said. "But it happened 10 years ago, and it's doubtful he goes around sexually harassing people at this stage of his career."
But Hullen argued that 10 years ago, women "wouldn't say anything about sexual harassment."