By: Samantha Cooper
On January 20, 2017, the 45th and likely most controversial President to ever been elected was inaugurated. During his campaign, President Donald Trump insulted almost every group that identifies as a minority in the country: women, people of color, people with disabilities, poor people just name the most obvious ones. The day after, on January 21, Women’s Marches took place, across the country. According to an article by The New York Times, some 470,000 people participated in the D.C. March, which was three times the size of the previous day’s inaugural audience. There was about 4.2 million participating in Women’s Marches across the country, according to a crowd estimate poll created by Jeremy Pressman and Erica Chenoweth. Marches also took place in other countries; England, the Netherlands, Canada…about two dozen scientists, mostly women, even staged a march in Antarctica.
Considering Goucher College’s history of activism, it should come as no surprise that many Goucher students participated in marches across the country. After a request for volunteers was put out on Facebook, a few people were interviewed about their experiences and time at the women’s march.
Amanda Parisse, a first year student from California participated in Los Angeles Women’s March. She said the reason she marched was because she doesn’t believe “the government should decide what we can and can’t do with our bodies like it’s our bodies” and due to her disagreement with President Trump’s policies. She has been involved in activism since high school and in high school held a protest against members of the Westboro Baptist Church after the San Bernadino shooting. Parisse said she does a lot of activism through social media, using websites like Facebook as a platform to post her thoughts and arguments. A preliminary look through her Facebook page confirms this.
She called her experience “insane” saying that, “There were so many people like you could barely stand. Imagine like a huge crowd of people and multiply that by twenty…There was so many people just marching and everyone was wearing the hats, they had insane energy, it was just insane. I was like full-energy all day. I was top-notch energy. Like I had six cups of coffee. I was insanely energized.” During the march, she held a sign that read “Viva La Vulva,” which she mentioned had gotten her a lot of attention.
Parisse is hoping to organize a demonstration on campus to protest against President Trump’s policies. She said she would like to “cause so big a disturbance that it closes us. Like so big it basically blocks Van Meter and causes tension and like they actually pay attention to our protests.” She would like to change the way activism is treated on campus: “Personally, I think they’re too soft, really passive. I think they’re like peaceful and I’m not a peaceful person. Let’s fight it out. Let’s yell about it…I don’t want words, I want action.”
Jules Roman is another first year student at Goucher. She only started to join rallies at Goucher; her first one was the day after the election, which she called “that wretched day in November.” She participated in the Women’s March in D.C. She said that she and the others were marching, “very much marching for against Trump, marching for immigration; immigrants are welcome, trans people are welcome, LGBTQ people are welcome. We included some women’s rights like our body, our choice.” She said she marched because, “there really is a strength in numbers.”
Roman talked about Peace Studies class she had taken the previous semester, where there was a lecture that discussed this topic. She also said that she became involved because, “I’m very much ruled by ethics in general and what is going on in the world. What I think we ought not to be doing is what is currently happening and I guess with Trump being elected everyone else it was. It wasn’t a total wake up call to me because I was aware of this but now it was this is the time.” She also said that being at Goucher made the marches more readily accessible for her, so she decided it was the time to go.
She called the experience, “really cool” and “There was so many people… Like going to the march it was really cool to see the amount of children and older people there.” She also said that the demographics of people gave it a different vibe, when it came to the cheers as they didn’t seem to know any and she ended up leading many herself. At one point, she was gifted a megaphone by an older woman in the crowd.
Like Parisse, Roman is also interested in starting more marches on her own, but would prefer to do so off of Goucher’s campus; “I’ve definitely thought about creating an event page and being like ‘Baltimore, okay? Let’s go. We’re marching from here to here. Invite as many people as possible. Let’s do this.’” However, she wants to gain more credibility before taking further steps. She would also like to incorporate photography into her work as an activist. “Call me humanistic but if you’re President or Secretary of State or whatever you be you job to be to be what is best for the people,” she said.
Megan E.M. is a senior at Goucher, who is heavily concerned with affects that the repelling of the Affordable Care Act on her family; her mother has joint issues and her father received a kidney transplant last year and thus her family is reliant on the ACA to keep the costs of medicine and treatment minimal. E.M. and her mother both attended the D.C. March, though she said the march was crowded that they did not move; luckily, this allowed her mother to remained seated throughout the event.
She said the march was very crowded; “There so many people that we filled the entire march route, so the march route they had gotten approved was literally filled with bodies so we never had to march it.”
E.M. also recalled how the Port-A-Potties which had been left from the Inauguration the day before, had been locked but once opened by some other protestors with lock-picking skills were surprisingly clean and well stocked: “ I thought was a really big deal was that tell-tale sign about how empty the Inauguration was, was that all the Port-A-Potties had toilet paper were empty and had hand sanitizer. Because you know if you’ve ever been to a large event that uses that kind of restroom in the first hour of that large event it is all gone.”
She also described a small event where she ran into a Goucher alumnae, an older woman who had pointed out her school T-shirt and said “ ‘That’s my school. Right there, carrying on the Goucher tradition.’ ”The woman then described how she used to protest all the time as a college student.
She declared the whole experience “cool and inclusive” because “instead of it just being each individual cause, a lot of causes were down there and people were able to air their concerns. It was very peaceful like I didn’t see anyone getting into fights or anything like that.” The latter part was important for her because of the number of children, elderly and animals at the protest.
The Women’s March was not her first step into the world of activism. Megan had also participated in the Occupy Wall Street protests and a smaller one meant to bring awareness about climate change, though neither she said was to the same scale as the Women’s March.
Students were also busy with activism in the fall. Tamar Remer tried to organize a protest on Goucher’s campus in December. She unfortunately was unable to interview about further progress on the event as she went abroad for the semester. However, the election of Trump inspired her to take action; “I wrote on the 2018 class page,: “We have to do something. I don’t know what we should do but we have to do something.” I didn’t feel right. I couldn’t just stand here and accept this. And my roommate jokingly said, we should organize a protest and do something. And I was like, “We should. We should do something.” She organized several get-togethers in the Athenaeum throughout the semester to plan a march, though she had very little activism experience at the time. Her ultimate goal was to “for the people who want to be involved is to feel like they’re doing something even if it… doesn’t necessarily make the news or like have any real change.”
Many stories about Goucher students who participated in rallies or marches or protests have not been told and not all the views reflected in here may be shared among the Goucher community. It would be impossible to get every student’s story. However, the stories that are told make it clear that the Gophers are going to continue Goucher’s social justice legacy.