Over 100 Columbia students joined approximately 500,000 protesters for the Women's March on Washington in response to the inauguration of President Donald Trump on Saturday, comprising one part of the largest nationwide protest in United States history.
In addition to students who joined the Women's March in New York, student groups organized transportation to Washington, D.C., to participate in the march. One bus was sponsored by Barnard College Residential Life and Housing, the Athena Center for Leadership Studies, and Barnard Student Life, while student groups Columbia/Barnard Hillel and Columbia Against Trump, and criminal justice advocacy group Beyond the Box also sponsored transportation.
The Women's March on Washington originated from a Facebook post on Nov. 9, 2016, and aimed to express to Trump's administration that "women's rights are human rights."
Initially, experts estimated that 200,000 protesters would participate in the Women's March on Washington. However, according to the New York Times, over 470,000 people participated in the Women's March on Washington—triple the number of people who attended President Trump's inauguration. The large number of protesters overwhelmed the D.C. metro, leading to several station closures, and the march itself was delayed and rerouted for safety reasons.
"I feel like it is my responsibility as a Barnard student with access to this march to go and represent womanhood," Madeline Comer, BC '20, who attended the march with the Barnard-sponsored bus, said. "It was a comforting thing to do in the first day of Trump's presidency."
Rather than attend the Women's March in New York City, in which many Columbia and Barnard students participated, Julien Reiman, CC '18, said he chose to go to Washington with Columbia/Barnard Hillel to protest.
"I wanted to march in a way that was most effective, and I saw that as marching in front of Donald Trump's house, the White House," Reiman said. "As a straight white male, I cannot comprehend what a Trump presidency means in terms of the dangers he poses to people. I just wanted to march on behalf of women, for women, just as an ally to be there in any way that I could to celebrate and to show my support."
While the declared mission of the march was to express concern about women's rights under the Trump administration, protesters also marched out of concerns raised by other aspects of Trump's agenda.
Members of Beyond the Box, which helps incarcerated people enter colleges and universities, marched not only for women's rights but also in protest of Trump's policies on crime.
Students who came with Columbia/Barnard Hillel arrived in Washington on Inauguration Day, when some protesters clashed with police. In D.C., Reiman noted a shift in the environment from Inauguration Day to Saturday's march.
"I got to D.C. last night, and walking around were people in "Make America Great Again" hats," Reiman said. "First thing I did when I woke up [on Saturday] was look out the window and everyone walking was wearing these pussy hats—pink hats, homemade to have little ears coming out of them to show their support for the community marching."
Students who attended the march said they hope to bring their concerns back to campus and continue to fight for their values over the next four years.
"I am hoping that on campus, it isn't something where people leave this bus and say, 'OK, I've done what I needed to do.' I think that I saw people really saying, 'This was only the beginning. We will be back,'" Shachar Cohen-Hodos, GS/JTS '19, said. "That was really exciting, and I hope that is what people can carry through in the next years."