Clarkies Participate in Protests
Students travel to D.C., Boston, and Worcester in wake of the presidential inauguration
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“It’s so much bigger than just marching,” said Courtney Thomas (‘17). “As a black woman, I am here because I am afraid for this [presidential] administration and I want them to protect my rights. But then I also realize that there are so many other people that are affected by this as well. In ways, [they] are in more danger than I am, so how can I support them?”
In the last few weeks many Clark students have protested the aftermath of the 2016 election. The day after the inauguration, many Clarkies travelled to Boston to join the Women’s March. The Clark bus to Washington D.C. was organized by Ruth Fuller (‘20) and Nicole LeRoux (‘15) and was sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) Program took 55 students, staff, and faculty to the march. A member of the Massachusetts State Organizing Team for the march, Fuller began planning for the event Nov. 2016.
The first general interest meeting had 100 people in attendance, but there were only 55 available bus seats. Initially they were going to do a lottery for the seats, but were concerned that a random lottery could lead to minorities being underrepresented. To combat this problem, they reserved half of the seats on the bus for individuals nominated by leaders of clubs that represent students from communities that have been historically marginalized. The rest of the seats were put in random lottery for other interested students.
The bus left Worcester at 6 p.m. the night before the march, arriving at Union Station in Washington D.C. at 2:30 a.m. The passengers spent the next five hours in the station, many attempting to sleep on the marble floor.
Around 9 a.m., they attended the rally where many speakers shared their stories. The rally lasted longer than expected, leaving the Clarkies only about an hour to march before heading back to their bus.
Multiple attendees noted the speech by the six-year-old hispanic activist, Sophie Cruz, as the most memorable moment, who gave her speech in both English and Spanish.
While many viewed the march as successful, it did not go without flaws. Delayed marching made protesters impatient.
“We had been standing basically from 8 a.m. until this march,” said Joanna Hamilton (‘19).
The wait annoyed many of the protesters, who began chanting over some of the speakers in order to try to start the march.
“There was a moment where Angela Davis came to speak,” Thomas said, “and people…started shouting over her ‘March, march, march’ … But when bigger celebrities came like Alicia Keyes and Madonna everyone was quiet.”
Regardless of the problems some of the protestors had with the event, all who spoke with The Scarlet felt the protests were overall effective in encouraging people to continue to question and call out the new presidential administration.
“One of the main feelings when I was back on the bus … was a feeling of like ‘well that was cool, but what did I really do?’ I really didn’t feel like I did anything, honestly.” said Katherine Landesman (‘16). However, upon further reflection Landesman was happy to have been a part of what she thinks will be a historic moment. She also expressed that she has “been more politically active than I was [before the rally].”
Landesman’s experience with increased political activity was mirrored by the other protesters who spoke with The Scarlet.
“It was extremely effective because there is a lot of organizing going on on [Clark’s] campus right now, and a lot of the people are organizing to resist action by the current administration that we don’t believe in,” said Fuller.
The march on Washington D.C. meant different things for everyone who went. One of the protestors, Sara Nasah (‘20), was most impacted by “the amount of Muslim speakers at the march.” Nasah grew up as a Muslim American outside of Boston, and hearing people speak on behalf of her religion “drove me to tears.”
“Growing up a Muslim girl during middle school everyone made fun of me…[calling] Osama Bin Laden my uncle and things like that” Nasah said. “It just finally felt like acceptance, and I didn’t know how much I craved it until I got it.”
This past Tuesday about one-hundred Clark students also attended a protest at Worcester City Council Meeting. Students marched down Main Street and into City Hall to protest Councilor-at-Large Michael Gaffney’s proposed resolution to reject naming Worcester a Sanctuary City. This would mean that police would be allowed to investigate the citizenship documents of those who get an arrest commissioned against them.