The first piece of our series explores Haverford student experiences at the Women’s March on Washington. The Clerk’s Associate Editor, Ellen Schoder was a participant, and on-site covering the march.
Less than 24 hours after Trump was sworn in as President, students made their way from Haverford to Washington, D.C. to take part in the Women’s March on Washington. For about 100 students, the journey started in Haverford’s South Lot, where they piled into three buses, sponsored by the College.
“After the election, I was working with students to figure out what it is they could do, and I heard that there just was a lot of strong desire to go to the March, but they couldn’t find support elsewhere in the College,” said Walter Sullivan, Director of Quaker Affairs and Religious Life. So, he said, he decided to organize a group of students – and the transportation – to attend.
The buses left campus around 7:30 a.m., and by 11:00 students were gathered outside of the Friend’s Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) in Washington, D.C., where they took photos and picked up bumper stickers encouraging marchers to “#LoveTheyNeighbor (no exceptions).” From there, students split off into smaller groups and navigated their way to the heart of the city, passing vendors with Women’s March memorabilia, groups of protesters, and the US Capitol, which was still set up for the inauguration.
In one group, students arrived outside the National Museum of the American Indian, too far from the rally to hear the speakers, though the cheering made its way back to the crowd in waves. The students were surrounded by other protesters, making it nearly impossible to move before the march officially started a couple hours later. But the crowd was energized, bursting into chants of and “Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go.” Throughout the afternoon, the students joined in other chants, from “This is what democracy looks like” to “We are nasty women” to “Hands too small; can’t build a wall.”
“It seemed like an important thing to do at the right time,” said Carolin Schmidt ’20. “And a thing you want to be a part of.”
Eventually, students made their way to Pennsylvania Avenue and headed towards the White House – passing the National Archives, Newseum, and one of Trump’s hotels on the way – though they were not able to reach the White House before they had to catch the bus back to Haverford.
“It was really cool to see all the different signs and the real variety of causes that people turned out for,” said Allie Corcoran ’19.
Some students who did not take the buses from Haverford still made their way to D.C., many by arranging carpools with their friends. And for others who could not get to D.C., there was a local option: the Women’s March in Philadelphia.
Sarah Dwyer ’17 said that she attended the march in Philadelphia, which went from Logan Square to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
“I think it would’ve been really cool to be [in DC], but also really overwhelming,” said Dwyer. “But I wanted to be somewhere, so I was excited that there was one in Philly too.”
She said that the march in Philadelphia was also crowded, but that it was a great experience.
“I think a lot of the reason we wanted to go was because it was historically important – the sheer amount of people around the world, all the other marches that were organized – it was a really cool thing to be a part of in some tiny way,” she said.
Sullivan said that funding for the trip to Washington, D.C. came from the Rufus Jones Fund. He added that The Quaker Affairs Office will sponsor other programming this semester, including a “Writing as Activism Workshop,” and “Workshop on Nonviolent direct action training in strategic planning.”
“My hope is that particularly [younger generations], felt the overwhelming support and encouragement of the numbers of people who came, the generations of people who came, the ethnicities and identities of people who came, and know that they are not alone in this work of building the just and equitable world that we all want to do,” he said.
If you were a participant in any of the Women’s Marches , and feel inclined to share any thoughts, anecdotes or reactions, please e-mail our Editor-in-Chief Maurice Rippel at email@example.com.