Why U.Va. students marched

Different perspectives on the Women's March on Washington

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Protesters at the Women's March in DC last week display signs.

Anna Higgins | Cavalier Daily

The Women’s March on Washington Jan. 21 drew crowds from all over the country to protest for women’s rights. The march included University students who traveled to the nation’s capital to attend this moment in history.

“I think it was a great way for people of different backgrounds to come together and express how they’re feeling and how scared they are for the future,” fourth-year College student Althea Pickering said.

While the timing of the march coincided with President Donald Trump’s inaugural weekend, the core of the protest was to bring women together to rally for women’s rights.

“I was slightly disappointed by the anti-Trump sentiment, which I thought overshadowed the true purpose of the march,” fourth-year College student Valentine Schell. “I would have liked it to have focused more on women’s rights and minority rights and less on Trump.”

The event brought a diverse group of women and men together to start a national dialogue about women’s rights. While many of the signs at the march were positive messages of hope, others included anti-Trump sentiments that some attendees did not expect.

“It felt like a community, but it also seemed like people were there for different reasons, whether that’s more anti-trump or pro-choice,” fourth-year College student Miranda Pollard said. “So I don’t think that it could be put under any sort of umbrella because there were people there protesting, asking and marching for different things.”

Although people attended the march for different reasons, the event drew a crowd of nearly 500,000 people. For some of the marchers, including Pickering, this was their first time protesting.

“I’ve never really participated in anything like the Women’s March before, so I thought it was a really great way to come together as a community and as women to make sure that everyone knows we’re watching and we care and this matters,” Pickering said.

Though the Women’s March attracted half a million protesters from all over the country, the event did not receive enough media attention for an event of its importance, according to Pickering.

“I think that because so many people ended up showing up that afterwards everyone realized just how much of a big deal it was,” Pickering said. “It was definitely very empowering to be there and to feel like you’re making a difference whether or not it had a noticeable impact.”

While online activism and social media posts are important, taking action and starting dialogue are particularly effective, according to Pollard.

“I feel like the rights of many different groups are threatened at this point in time and so I chose to participate for those reasons and for those people who can’t,” Pollard said. “I feel like I had the opportunity because I am close by to D.C. and I had a way to get there.”

While there were thousands of people in the crowd protesting on the National Mall, the event mobilized University students to march in solidarity.

“It was way more people than I imagined and more people than I had ever seen in one place. I felt like the energy was very positive and I felt like everyone was on the same page and in a good mood,” Pickering said.

While the March on the National Mall drew the largest crowd, many other cities around the country hosted similar events.

“It was super moving to see all of the sister marches everywhere and how many people mobilized. I think it was a testament to the power of mobilization in this country,” Pollard said. “I definitely felt a sense of hope and because of social media everywhere it was very clear that people were out and that people were angry and that people were willing to do something.”

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