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Students attend 2019 Women’s March in Washington

| Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Thirty-eight Notre Dame students took a 10 hour bus ride to attend the third annual Women’s March in Washington D.C. on Saturday. This was the first year Notre Dame students arranged a formal trip to the March, though in previous years, students attended on their own.

Senior Jack Grogan, co-president of Notre Dame College Democrats, said he and Rachel Ingal, one of the trip’s organizers, began planning the trip last semester.

“[Ingal] asked me if College Democrats would be willing to sponsor a bus to the Women’s March for as many students as were willing to fit on the bus, and we obviously were really excited about that opportunity,” he said. “… I spoke to the leadership and we went from there. Primarily we were just sort of the vehicle for these highly motivated club members to initiate this trip on their own.”

Photo courtesy of Patrick McCabe

Students participate in the 2019 Women’s March in Washington on Saturday.

Sophomore Patrick McCabe, another organizer of the trip, said student interest in the March exceeded expectations.

“We were definitely shocked by the level of interest that we found in this event because it was definitely something that we started from the ground up. We sent out an interest form last month just to see if there would be enough people interested to go,” he said. “… We put it out at 8 p.m. and by midnight we had 138 responses, and by the end of the next day we had 250.”

Ingal said students who attended the March were able to listen to a variety of speakers, including the March’s co-founders.

“That was really interesting, to get that perspective as well, because as [the co-founders] talked about, they were not life-long organizers. It was definitely really a grassroots movement that really grew,” Ingal said. “… [They were] just people who were really passionate and sparked by something in the last few years that’s really fueled them.”

Grogan said the March has grown immensely since its inception in 2017.

“I think that last year and this year we saw, sort of, the March becoming more consistent and permanent presence in the D.C. universe, which is something that obviously the March for Life has had for several decades now and I think the Women’s March is starting to gain that kind of traction year after year,” he said. “… I have seen a greater sense of legitimacy.”

Though the March focused on female empowerment, it tackled a diverse array of social problems, MacCabe said.

“I think the Women’s March is probably one of the most important movements of our time,” McCabe said. “I think that it’s really important that if we don’t appreciate the intersectionality of the Women’s March, then we’re really missing what makes it a transformative social movement … it’s like no movement ever before in terms of intersectionality.”

“The Women’s March is important to me because it brings attention to the injustices suffered not only by women, but also by racial minorities, immigrants, and the LGBTQ+ community,” freshman William Sheriff, who also attended the March, said in an email.

Grogran said he believes the mission of the March is a cause anyone can embrace.

“My hope is that going forward it can be an experience where women and men of all backgrounds can feel comfortable going forward and advocating for not only feminism, but equality in a number of other spheres,” Grogan said.

In light of the Kavanaugh hearings, many protesters at the March rallied against sexual assault, freshman Amaya Medeiros said.

“I was there in support of sexual assault victims,” Medeiros said. “So a lot of the posters had underwear attached to their posters and saying things like, ‘this doesn’t mean consent’ … those were the most important to me.

“… The whole controversy surrounding Kavanaugh really upset me,” she said. “So, seeing all these women from all over the world outpour support for Dr. Ford kind of motivated me to want to step out and be an active participant in this type of activism.”

Ingal said the March brought many diverse groups together.

“There were a lot of speakers‚ whether it was from Standing Rock, transgender, Latina, there were so many different perspectives and speakers and I think there were a lot of people who were there and came to March for women’s rights. But they were also there to learn about the perspectives of other members of the community. I think that there really were a lot of people learning how to develop an inclusive definition of women’s rights.”

Ingal said she and McCabe both hope to see the movement continue to grow at Notre Dame.

“Although we were not able to accommodate for all of the overwhelming interest that was shown, that’s hopefully something in the future that we would like to be able to do … it becomes more of a conversation that we can engage in,” Ingal said.

“We hope to make it a lot bigger,” McCabe echoed.

Grogan said that the College Democrats are also planning more events in the future, including bringing some speakers who are sympathetic to the message of the Women’s March to campus later this semester.

“We’re game for anything … I think in general, our mission is to facilitate a loud, feminist progressive voice on this campus often in contrast with other voices that we hear on this campus,” he said. “And I just don’t think there has been that sort of institutional vehicle in the past to elevate those voices.”

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