Students, faculty join March on Washington

by Nathanael King / Beacon Staff • January 25, 2017

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Reports estimate that 500,000 attended the march.
Reports estimate that 500,000 attended the march.

At the Women’s March on Washington Saturday, Emerson student Katja Vujić felt for the first time since the election that perhaps she was not doomed.

“There were all of these people around me fighting for most of the same things I was fighting for,” said Vujić, a junior writing, literature, and publishing major. “I really felt I have some power. I’ve just been so scared.”

More than 50 students and at least two faculty members marched in a crowd that the Associated Press reported was about 500,000 strong.

Most of these students and both faculty members rode an overnight bus into D.C. on Friday and made the trek back to Boston Saturday night.

Some students who registered to ride the bus found alternative ways to get there and gave their seats to other students, Vujić said.

She said the busful of Emerson people planned to stick together, but ended up splitting into smaller groups.

The national organizers of the march and those who participated aimed to promote the rights of a number of marginalized communities, including racial minorities, immigrants, disabled people, Native Americans, Muslims, and LGBTQ people. But the focus was on women’s rights and reproductive rights.

Vujić said it was important for the movement to include trans women and people with uteruses who are not women, but some on the Facebook group for the Emerson trip felt the march fell short in this regard.

Senior writing, literature, and publishing major Christine Lavosky said some of the anatomy-centered rhetoric was in reference to President Donald Trump’s derogatory comments.

“That did put more emphasis on how having a vagina makes you a woman, which is obviously not true,” she said. “There needs to be more of a unifier between all women.”

Assistant professor Cara Moyer-Duncan and affiliated faculty member William Palumbo chaperoned the trip.

“[Moyer-Duncan] is a major reason things went so smoothly,” Vujić said.

Moyer-Duncan said she expected cell phone service to be unreliable due to the number of people at the march.

She said she ensured all the students were staying with at least one other person and knew how to get back to the meeting point on time.

“I was impressed that the students had the commitment and the initiative to go,” Moyer-Duncan said. “They took care of each other. They looked out for each other.”

The national organizers’ insistence on a peaceful protest was largely successful. NBC New York reported that no arrests were made at the march.

Not every Emerson student in D.C. marched. Sallie Bieterman, junior performing arts major, flew into the city Friday morning to work with the national organizers.

She spent inauguration day sorting credentials for speakers, press, and organizers, and handed them out on the day of the protest, as well as working backstage.

“I think about what I’m gonna tell my daughters that I did during this time,” she said. “Because everyone who comes after us is going to know where we were and what we were doing.”