Members of campus community attend Women’s March, sister marches across country

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This last week has been marked by political marches and protests across the nation from the March for Life on Jan. 27 to recent protests on President Trump’s travel ban at airports. The largest of these marches, though, was the Women’s March, which was held on Jan. 21, the day after Trump’s inauguration. The Women’s March reached global scales, and is being heralded as the largest protest in American history. The Vanguard spoke with 15 SVSU students, staff, and faculty who attended Women’s Marches around the world – read their stories below.

If you attended a march, feel free to share your story in the comments section.

Shannon Hardy, creative writing senior

March: Washington D.C.

Why They Marched: “I marched because, even in 2017, sexism and racism are flaws in our society that aren’t being properly addressed by the administration in the White House. I am lucky to live in a democracy that allows its people to voice their opinion, and it’s an important time to take that opportunity.”

Favorite Moment: “My favorite part of the march was seeing so many passionate, intelligent young girls using their voice and getting involved with the discussion. Girls marching for the values and standards of good science, marching for racial equality, marching for their education and their rights to speak out. It was really exciting to see a younger generation so engaged.”

Takeaway: “It sounds kinda corny but the human spirit is so, so, strong. I met so many brave, compassionate women there, who had been protesting the same inequalities for decades. But their voices were still so strong, no one was backing down. It was an incredible experience, and I feel so fortunate to have been there.”

Chris Fike, Assistant Professor of Social Work

March: Lansing

Why They Marched: “As social workers and social work educators, we have an ethical obligation to engage in social justice movements with and on behalf of oppressed individuals and groups of people. I was there in solidarity with vulnerable, marginalized, and underserved communities, to help bring voice to their genuine, yet often unacknowledged, concerns. I also understand that the collective response to the threats faced by our communities must be rooted in an intersectional, multicultural, collaborative approach, and this represented such a tremendous opportunity to build and strengthen our community.”

Favorite Moment: “Being present and engaged with community members from across the state of Michigan was something that was genuinely empowering. Being a part of a march that represented the beginning of a resistance movement, not just another moment for protest, gives me hope for the future of our state and our country.”

Takeaway: “Hope. Empowerment. A sense of solidarity and collective power. And a genuine sense of community.”

Ingie Hoskins, history senior

March: Lansing

Why They Marched: I decided to march on Lansing because I wanted to have my voice heard. It was a momentous occasion to showcase my support for Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive rights. I also wanted to show my support for immigrant rights. My mother is a legal immigrant to this country, so immigration is a very important topic for me.”

Favorite Moment: “My favorite moment of the event was knowing that thousands of men and women around the world are finally being heard. In Lansing, Gretchen Whitmer, who has begun her run for Michigan Governor, spoke and left an incredible impression on me. All of the speakers rallied the crowd, but for the right reasons; there was no bashing of men or attacks at government. It was a peaceful and worthwhile experience.”

Takeaway: “During and following the march when I told my friends I attended I was astonished at the opinions I heard. People were very upset and confused by the movement. I was asked many questions about why I had to attend and what good would it do, but the best is ‘What do men have that women don’t?’ This personally proved to me that the movement has only come so far since the early years of the Women’s Rights Movement.”

Samuel Oswald, psychology and sociology senior

March: Lansing

Why They Marched: “I marched for a lot of reasons. I’m a big proponent of scientifically informed policy, so I was rallying for things like affordable and accessible birth control and reproductive health for men and women, climate change awareness, and a separation of church and state.”

Favorite Moment: “I think that my favorite part of the rally in Lansing was how many people were there. The lawn was absolutely packed. I also liked the diversity of the crowd. People of all different sexes, genders, races, and religions were there standing in solidarity.”

Takeaway: “What I took from this event is that people care. There was something like 6,000 sister rallies around the world. There was even a rally in Antarctica. What that tells me is that people around the world have paid attention to President Trump’s hateful and divisive rhetoric and that the world is ready and willing to stand with us against the growing nationalist attitudes in the United States.”

Alexa Foor, English senior

March: Washington D.C.

Why They Marched: “I march because I feel like there are a lot of marginalized voices that aren’t heard as often as they should be, especially in this last election; the voices of most people are going to be silenced or people are going to silence them. So I feel like the women’s march was an important event because it gave voices to people who are different from the norm—and when I say that, I mean people from the LGBT community and people of racial minorities and people who are being ignored, like victims of the Flint water crisis and of police brutality. It was giving voices to marginalized people and voices to groups I don’t necessarily identify with, but it also was giving voices to things like reproductive health and women’s rights. Some of it doesn’t directly affect my experience, but I recognize that it is all important for everybody.”

Favorite Moment: “We were marching right towards the White House, to this point where there was a lot of security, and at one point I was packed into a large crowd of protesters and we were walking past the marshals and I could see that one of the protesters had taken a selfie with a marshal. We were walking past them and a female marshal stopped us and said ‘thank you.’ We thanked her, too, and she said ‘no, thank you. You are the reason I do this job.’ It was so nice to see law enforcement talking about how they work to protect our rights, including our right to speak out. If you could take the whole meaning of the march and put it down into one moment, I think it would be that moment of cooperation between people you usually don’t see cooperating: police and protesters.”

Takeaway: “The biggest thing that I got out of the march was a sense that, before this, I wasn’t doing enough. I came back with a new passion for wanting to do more. Up until now, the things that I was doing was being outspoken on social media and voting in a way that matched my beliefs, but outside of that, I really hadn’t been doing much to make change. And at the march, so many people were talking about calling representatives and enacting change at a local and national level, and it really instilled in me a sense that I needed to do more if I wanted to see real change happen. I also came back with a sense of hope because after the election, before the march, I thought that people who believed in equal rights were outnumbered by people who didn’t believe in equal rights, and going to the march and seeing that people who believed in equal rights were still talking, still protesting, and then to step back and see that people from all over the world were protesting, it definitely gave me hope for the future.”

Sara Chase, elementary education freshman

March: Chicago

Why They Marched: “I marched for many reasons, and one of them is because it is my future that is in jeopardy. I wanted to see a woman in power because I knew that she would make advances for us. I thought that finally paid maternity leave would be mandatory, the luxury tax on feminine products would be erased, and there would be equal pay for everyone. I am terrified that in the next four years this society will become even more unequal when it comes to the sexes; we already live in a patriarchy and it is only going to get worse from here. So that is why I marched; I marched for my future and the future of this country. I will not be silenced, and neither will the thousands of women I marched alongside.”

Favorite Moment: “My favorite moment was when we actually began to march. In Chicago, it all started with a big rally, lots of music and inspiring speakers, it was awesome. People just kept coming and coming, and eventually there was simply too many people. We were told that we would not be able to march because we flooded the streets of Chicago with people. While that is a good problem to have, it was very much a problem. People were starting to get antsy since we couldn’t march, so I slipped off to the side because it was just getting so crowded. Well, as I was walking back to the train station, I looked back and everyone was marching. Basically, everyone said ‘screw it’ and took to the streets anyways. I ran back over to join them and it was amazing. So many women and allies coming together and refusing to be silenced was beautiful. People all along the sidewalks watched, filmed, and took pictures of us. Our voices were heard, and they are still ringing off the buildings in Chicago.”

Takeaway: “Women are awesome. I went Downtown alone, and I had so many women talking to me, asking where I was from, what I was really marching for; I have never received more compliments in my life. Seeing all these amazing women come together and fight for their rights as well as each other’s was once-in-a-lifetime. I have never been happier in my life.”

Ana Pico García, graphic design senior

March: Midland

Why They Marched: “I marched because as a woman, immigrant, and member of the LGBT community, is important to remember that our voices have to be heard and we should defend our rights and still advance in a lot of aspects.”

Favorite Moment: “My favorite moment was realizing how many different people were marching. Kids with their signs next to the oldest generation, men marching because they believe in women’s rights–it was precious.”

Takeaway: “What is most important about this march is to see that a huge part of the people of this country care about equal rights and believe that we can do so much more. It was a day to be proud.”

Nicholas Polhill, professional and technical writing junior

March: Lansing

Why They Marched: “While I did not originally plan on attending the march, I joined in the spur of the moment because I wanted to show that I did not approve of the new administration for a lot of reasons. These include the administration’s position on reproductive healthcare, equality, and the president’s blatant sexism, which were main points of the march, to it’s array of cabinet appointees, and denial of climate change and dangerous rhetoric on the environment, which is a very important issue to me.”

Favorite Moment: “I don’t think I had a single favorite moment. There were a few things that I liked about it. First, the speakers weren’t ‘radical.’ They were very inclusive of various groups–men, women, LGBT, etc.–mostly calling for them to come together as a community and stand up for one another. Second, everyone there was very nice and polite, and nobody was getting incredibly angry or rude about anything. Also, the police were very cooperative and helpful, which isn’t something you always hear about at these protests.”

Takeaway: “I got a lot of hope from the march – hope that the nation won’t stand by and let the current administration get away with terrible policy and violating our rights. I also have hope that this will spur our generation to be more politically active.”

Nikki Urse, secondary education junior

March: Washington D.C.

Why They Marched: “I marched because these are very uncertain times for people and I know a lot of people that are scared and I wanted to go and show that all are loved and all are welcome here. I also wanted to show that women deserve to have their voices heard.”

Favorite Moment: “My favorite part about the march was how peaceful the march was. Everyone was very loving and supportive of each other. There was a real sense of togetherness and acceptance.”

Takeaway: “What I took away from the march was that women are strong and we will endure whatever challenges that the next four years will bring us. Women have fought for their rights long before this election and I believe we will still be fighting after it as well.”

Eric Gardner, Professor of English

March: Midland

Why They Marched: “My sign says it all. I’m convinced that the new administration and far too many citizens have forgotten that we must be motivated by kindness in everything we do. We always need to think about other folks’ needs, circumstances, and hopes. To understand those needs, circumstances, and hopes, we need to really listen to folks; we need to gain a diverse and accurate sense of both history and our current moment.”

Favorite Moment: “This will sound funny, but parking my car. We’d heard that perhaps 50 people would attend, and the weather wasn’t wonderful, so we thought there might be even fewer present. The number of cars hinted that there would be many more. Most of the media and my own estimate put attendance at over 400. It was a joy to see this kind of active engagement from so many people.”

Takeaway: “A reaffirmation that the practice of kindness must be both an individual and a collective effort.”

Carly Peil, graphic design junior

March: Copenhagen, Denmark

Why They Marched: “I marched for love, equality, respect. I marched for those who couldn’t. I marched for those different from me. I chanted the words ‘immigrants are welcome here.’ I was surround by women, men, children, old, young, Danish, Swedish, American, gay, bisexual, black, Muslim, Christian, atheist, white, deaf, immigrant and so many more; (we were) united. I felt the energy, the love, the power of these people united. Now it’s time to show up, every minute of every day, and live this march. Live love–unconditional, enormous and life changing love. Live equality–equality for people exactly like me as well as people on the other side of the spectrum. Have those conversations that will help us all grow. Live respect–for all, every day. Show up.”

Favorite Moment: “My favorite moment was when my friend Emily got to lead a chant with the megaphone. She yelled, ‘tell me what democracy looks like’, and we responded, ‘this is what democracy looks like!’ When we got to the end, we did a chant where the leader yelled, ‘say it loud, say it clear’ and we responded with, ‘refugees are welcome here.’”

Takeaway: “Our activism does matter, and there are fellow humans on the other side of the world who genuinely care and who have each other’s backs. This march wasn’t just about women and it wasn’t about Trump; just think, I was marching on the other side of the world with all sorts of people who don’t have Trump as their leader. This isn’t about him. It’s about showing up. Showing up to stand up–quite literally this time–for basic human rights, equality, and love. I gained an understanding of those different from me and I felt how powerful we can all be when we stand united.”

Sherrin Frances, Associate Professor of English

March: Midland

Why They Marched: “I am gravely concerned that the most vulnerable people and communities among us, including many people I know personally, will experience direct harm—including the unexaggerated possibility of death—from some of the new administration’s proposed policies.  I wanted to be surrounded by people who share my concerns about these policies.”

Favorite Moment: “Approaching the march location at the designated time and seeing so many more people than I expected—and then realizing how many people I already knew within that crowd.”

Takeaway: “Two things: One, a restored faith that many of us still value basic human rights, the right to privacy, and freedom of choice.  And two, a reaffirmed sense of solidarity with people who know what I mean when I say these kinds of things and don’t require me to justify, explain, or argue the point.”

Brittany Lentz, communication senior

March: Lansing

Why They Marched: “I marched for all the women that didn’t think that it was important, that it didn’t matter or that it wouldn’t help anything. I marched for all the women that marched to give me the rights I have today.”

Favorite Moment: “My favorite moment was when I realized that this was the nicest, most polite group of people that I’ve ever been surrounded by. It was the sense of having like-minded people that all came together for the same reasons.”

Takeaway: “What I took away from this march is that I was a part of something bigger and that I was doing something that that thousands of other men and women were doing all over the country and the world.”

Diane Deacon, ESL Specialist

March: Lansing

Why They Marched: “I marched because I am concerned about the erosion of certain freedoms and rights of people in this country. There seems to be an ugliness that has been unleashed and given permission to come out in the open. I love this country, and I want to see it continue to be a place of freedom for all, with malice toward none (Thank you Mr. Lincoln for that wonderful phrase!)”

Favorite Moment: “There was no favorite moment, but it was inspiring to be in a group of thousands of people–men, women, kids, white, black, Christian, Muslims–and all congregating peacefully and pleasantly. From the bus drivers, to the police, to the speakers–all seemed to be together in a spirit of community.”

Takeaway: I think it’s important, in the aftermath of these events, to remember that along with our freedoms come responsibility. As citizens of the USA, we are fortunate to be granted the right and privilege to peacefully disagree, to gather and air concerns. We elect leaders, and those leaders have a tough job to do. Citizens should take steps to be aware and informed. I hope that every citizen, whatever their party affiliation, will take their right to vote seriously and vote in the next election.”

Beth Johns, E-Resources Librarian

March: Lansing

Why They Marched: “I marched not because Trump was elected, but because I want to draw attention to the fact that there are many unheard voices in our communities and the new administration and both political parties need to be clearly aware of this.”

Favorite Moment: “Just the atmosphere. It was uplifting and exciting. Everyone was polite, and friendly, though I admit, some speeches were a little antagonistic for my liking. But this is what freedom of speech is about and I take that freedom very seriously.”

Takeaway: “I’m excited to learn about more ways to become politically active without running for office. I was surprised that I did not see any counter protest.”