The Columns

Students Travel to Women’s March on Washington W&L students reflect on their experiences at the Women’s March.

— by on January 24th, 2017

On Sat. Jan 21, two busloads of students traveled to D.C. to participate in the Women’s March on Washington. We asked them to reflect on what the experience meant to them. Here’s what a few of them had to say.

The day before, another group of students attended the inauguration of Donald Trump, and you can read about their experiences (and watch an interview with them) here.

Hailey Glick ’18
I marched because our country’s history is filled with the strong, powerful voices of women, and I refuse to let their legacy turn to silence. I am very privileged in that I was raised by a patriotic military father and a hard-working mother who have instilled in me the values of kindness, courage and good citizenship, who have helped me grow into my voice, and who have always supported me in my every endeavor.

Democracy is a beautiful mess. The March didn’t exactly end up happening as originally planned because the organizers wrote the permit not knowing how many people were actually going to show up. They were overwhelmed when their expected 200,000 turned into half a million. There was no denying the flood of hope which filled the streets that day.

I’ve signed up to participate in the 100 days/10 actions campaign sponsored by the organizers of the March. And I’ve vowed not to remain silent when it comes to any issue I feel strongly about over the next four years. The March may be over, but the fight is ongoing.

Stephanie Williams ’18
I marched on Washington to make explicitly clear right off the bat my expectations for Donald Trump’s conduct moving forward as our president. If he follows through on his apparent intentions to infringe upon my civil rights and the rights of any of my fellow Americans, especially those most marginalized in our society, it will not be tolerated.

It is so easy in this country to feel powerless. The best part about our democracy is also the worst part about our democracy: it’s a process. We pass laws and then repeal them and debate and veto and argue in circles all in the hopes that if we shove back and forth consistently and ardently, we will all push each other to be the best we can be, and ultimately making this country the best it can be.

And to those who did not march, I challenge you to rise to the occasion. Don’t dismiss us as soft-hearted liberals or radicals or assume that we similarly disparage you. Don’t fall back on prejudicial denunciations. And if you disagree, either with us or with your fellow conservatives, don’t hesitate to speak up. Challenge us. Challenge each other. Democracy needs active participation to survive, to be successful. We don’t have to agree, that’s not the point. We just have to try.

Virginia Kettles ’19
I was in Washington, D.C., crushed among the hundreds of thousands of protesters of all different backgrounds and ethnicities, people coming from literally all over the world to march. Everyone packed together, a solid mass of colors and noise, making a tide toward the White House.

I met a bearded man with a jean jacket who flew in all the way from Australia to march with us in protest of a president that was not even his own.

I met a teenage girl with long dreadlocks that fell down her back, who told me about the racial slurs she had been called at her university.

I met a young man with an American flag he had painted himself, a splash of rainbow colors bright against the overcast sky.

There was the feminist Gloria Steinem, who spoke of the power of the people, filmmaker Michael Moore pushing for citizens to exercise their rights by writing to their representatives, actress Scarlett Johansson speaking out to Trump, asking for his support for her and all men and women like her.

Hours later, my friends and I made our way back towards the buses to head back towards our university. We were exhausted, but incredibly satisfied.

We had witnessed history that day.

Julie Malone ’18
My favorite sign I saw during the March was inspired by the Broadway show, “Hamilton,” and featured Alexander Hamilton wearing a pussy hat. I believe the show really captures the spirit of the American Revolution and is an incredibly applicable symbol to the contemporary fight for equality, especially given the intersectional nature of the musical’s writing and casting.

Nora Devlin ’19
I marched because I am determined to fight back against Donald Trump’s presidency. His hatred, bigotry and potential legislation are incredibly hurtful, and I refuse to stand for it. I want to stand up for what I believe, and the March on Washington was a peaceful and effective way to do so. I am afraid for our country, for my rights and for the rights and lives of those less privileged than me — I plan to continue to make my voice heard and spread a message of equality.

I plan on reaching out to representatives to demand protection for my reproductive rights. We will also be organizing events on campus to raise money for Planned Parenthood, raise awareness about political policy decisions and send postcards to our representatives about issues that are important to us.

Foifon Teawdatwan ’19
After the election, when I realized the person in the White House and his cabinet nominations did not reflect my views of equality and social justice, I decided to act. I marched for my family, friends and fellow human beings who are under attack under the new administration, showing people that together we are never alone.

Democracy lies not in the White House, but in the people. My favorite sign was “You Can’t Comb Over Ignorance.”

I plan on joining ASA, the new student organization dedicated to student activism.

Rossella Gabriele ’19
(Read her full op-ed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
I marched because with every tweet and comment about how minorities (comprising roughly 40 percent of the nation) are ruining our country, you are attacking my family, friends, neighbors and classmates.

Mr. Trump, I didn’t vote for you, but you are now my president, as well as the president for the hundreds of thousands of women (and men) who marched for the causes that you have threatened through your rhetoric, promises and Twitter account.

Two months ago, I knocked door to door and made call after call on behalf of Hillary, because I knew she would fight for my rights and my future. Yesterday, I marched to knock on your door, the White House, and now I call on you because you must defend my rights and my future. I am America’s women, scientists, students, children and minorities—and all that I ask is that you be our president, too.

Elena R. Diller ’17
I marched out of anger and helplessness, though neither of those feelings are productive nor sustainable over the next four years. I was looking for an outlet to express my support of others who feel similarly, particularly marginalized groups such as LGTBQ, Muslims, blacks and immigrants.

I had no idea that I would feel so positive during the March. I was overwhelmed with feeling supported and loved by the strangers around me and around the world. Much of my negativity subsided and became positive feelings of resistance. My favorite sign was held by a young toddler which said, “I love naps but I stay woke.”

I am calling my senators and representatives in the House every day with a list of bills that I want them to either vote for or vote against. Additionally, I hope to continue volunteering at Project Horizon, showing my support for marginalized groups by wearing BLM T-shirts or LGTBQ positive T-shirts and speaking out in classes about my beliefs.