Yalies and other students from around the country descended on Washington this weekend, some to witness President Donald Trump’s Friday inauguration, but more to participate in the Women’s March on Washington.
Hundreds of Yalies attended the D.C. Women’s March, according to Supriya Kohli ’20, who helped organize bus shuttles from campus to the capital. Kohli explained that around 225 students traveled by bus from campus and that she assumed many more traveled to the march alone or in scattered groups. These students joined over 500,000 other protesters in D.C. and millions of others who marched in other cities on Saturday in one of the largest days of demonstrations in American history.
“I want to express my dissatisfaction with the President’s proposed policies and make it clear that we will not stay silent in the event that he does threaten our rights,” Adrianne Owings ’20, one of Yale’s marchers, said.
Many other Yale students attended the march for similar reasons. Johanan Knight ’19 said he was compelled to make the trip to D.C. because he was “worried about the new administration’s apathy towards civil rights and its desire, or lack thereof, to prioritize them for all people.” Hannah Schmitt ’18, the activism coordinator of the Party of the Left, said she felt empowered by her experience in the march, but added that marching once is not enough.
“It’s a pretty difficult time, and to feel the energy and power of the other marchers around me was fortifying,” Schmitt said, but added that those who oppose Trump “have to be in this for the long haul.”
Schmitt also noted that she was acutely aware that the march could have been more inclusive. Many criticized the organizers of the march for failing to include women of color in leadership positions and for initially calling the demonstration the “million woman march,” the same name as a march organized by black women in 1997. Organizers responded by changing the name of the march, bringing more women of color into the organizing process and choosing more speakers and performers of color for the event, but some feel that more could have been done, and sooner.
The number of Yale students who attended the inauguration seemed to be much smaller than the number who attended the Women’s March. Paul Han ’20, who attended the inauguration, said he thought about 30 Yale students went to the ceremony. Another Yale student put her estimate at under 50 students.
Low Yale turnout at the inauguration is likely given the marked lack of Trump supporters on campus. About five percent of Yale undergraduates who responded to a News survey distributed on Oct. 11 of last year said they supported Trump. Thirty-seven percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 voted for Trump nationwide, meaning that Yale undergraduates were an exceptionally anti-Trump electorate, even within the larger young adult electorate.
According to Han, members of several Yale Political Union parties, including the Tory Party, the Conservative Party and the Federalist Party, traveled to the inauguration. Han said he would have attended the inauguration regardless of who won the election.
“I decided to go because every inauguration is a part of history,” he said.
Han said he also attended Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington. Several other members of the YPU parties who attended the inauguration, such as Brigitte Fink ’20 and Brandon McCoy ’19 who are members of the Conservative Party, stayed for the march.
But Yalies were not the only students in Washington over the weekend. College, high school and grad students from across the country also made the trip to D.C. Ryan Kern, a junior at James Madison University, attended the inauguration with several friends from his school. Kern said he thought college students and recent graduates would fare well during Trump’s presidency.
“I think it’s going to be a great job environment,” Kern said. “I think he’s going to lower taxes and it’s going to be great for the economy.”
Kern said the ratio of Trump supporters to Hillary supporters at James Madison was around three to seven. This is a stark contrast to Yale, where the ratio of Hillary supporters to Trump supporters is closer to 16:1, according to the Oct. 11 survey.
Other students at the inauguration were less optimistic about the next four years. Herbie Fletcher, a freshman at Georgetown University who spoke with the News while walking toward the National Mall, said he did “not [support Trump] at all” during the election and added that “everything” about the new administration frightened him.
Jack Williams, a high school senior who voted for Trump, said part of the reason he made the trip to Washington from his hometown in Maryland for the inauguration was, like Han, to experience an important moment in American history. Williams said he voted for Trump because he thought he would do a better job than Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 at protecting the country from threats such as ISIS.
But most students who traveled to D.C. over the weekend came for the Women’s March. Tess Klingenstein, a graduate student living in Boston, was among those marching.
“I think [this campaign] unveiled a lot of racism and xenophobia and I want to make sure I stand with vulnerable communities who are going to be dangerously affected by this presidency,” Klingenstein said.
She added that her 87-year-old grandmother was traveling down from New York City to join her.
Hana Warmflash, a freshman at Dartmouth College, said she marched to show solidarity with muslims, the LGBTQ community, and other marginalized groups. She hoped the march would send a message to President Trump that many people in the country “would not back down” if he targeted these groups. Warmflash added that people who opposed Trump need to work hard over the next four years “to put candidates in office that we want to see there” in order to combat his policies effectively.