By Anna Liss-Roy ‘20
On November 9, a retired lawyer in Hawaii took to social media to suggest a protest surrounding Donald Trump’s inauguration. What started as a Facebook post soon became a movement; on January 21, the first day of Trump’s presidency, the Women’s March on Washington hit the streets accompanied by sister marches in all fifty states. California alone had more than thirteen separate marches, including The
Women’s March in Los Angeles, which had an estimated 750,000 marchers—far exceeding the 80,000 expected.
On the morning of January 21, the platform at the Claremont train station was filled with students and community- members alike, carrying signs and waiting in anticipation for the 7:37 a.m. train that would commute them into L.A.
One of those students was Sabrina Drescher SC ’20, who attended with a large group of her friends. “The train could only hold about half of the people that were on the platform,” said Drescher.
The march itself was delayed due to the unexpectedly high turnout, but protesters were unperturbed. “I saw kids, entire families, organizations, elderly women, and men, there was not a demographic that I did not see at this march,” said Drescher. “I was surrounded by people who were kind and excited. It was very high energy...there were bands and performers, and so many amazing signs.”
The websites for the march made clear that men were welcome to participate, and some male students did choose to attend. “I marched because I’m furious at the new administration, because I’m scared for the safety of so many of my friends and classmates, and because if you believe in something, you have to show up,” said one male attendee PO ’17.
“When Trump singles out some of us, he’s attacking all of us. I know that my personal safety is much less at stake than a lot of my peers because I’m a white cis/het male. But I think that makes it all the more important for people like me to weaponize our privilege and fight back.”
While many students reported positive experiences at the march, there were also some critiques to be heard. “One danger of marches like this is that people can achieve a kind of cathartic release and then risk becoming complacent, when really the march was just the beginning,” said one student PO ’17. “It would have been cool to see different groups more actively recruiting volunteers for future work.”
“Naturally it was a very white march...also I wish that there had been a heavier presence of people protesting for intersectional feminism,” said Drescher SC ’20.
Technology has made it vastly easier to organize protests such as The Women’s March, raising concern that the speed with which these demonstrations come together will cause people to consider marches to be an immediate form of action, rather than the call to action that they are meant to signify. Looking forward, Jess Bird SC ’19 said, “I think this march as a whole sparked a lot of activist spirit for people who aren’t normally involved in politics, and we have to keep that momentum moving forward.”