By Liz Friden
Over one million people from across the country attended the Women’s marches this past Saturday, January 20th. Last year’s women’s marches were held the day after President Trump’s inauguration in response to his controversial election, and the momentum was kept up this year as marchers continuing to raise awareness of women’s issues. Thousands of those people were a part of the Women’s March on Washington, including nearly one hundred Catholic University students.
The nationwide Women’s March in 2017 was one of the largest single-day protests in the history of the United States. This 2018 Women’s March was significantly smaller than last year’s, but it had a different focus. ‘Power to the Polls’ was a main slogan of the event, which was all about bringing women to the polls to vote more women into office.
The speakers discussed how much had changed in the year before, from Donald Trump’s election on November 8th to the March in 2017 and the most recent government shutdown. A few local politicians from Virginia spoke about their own experiences of empowerment from the year before when they decided to run. The speakers consisted of members of Congress and D.C. based advocacy groups as well.
This March was more political than last year’s March. Last year’s March was about unity against the presidential administration, this one was to bring down the administration by taking back Congress in 2018 and the White House in 2020.
Thirty-three Catholic University students representing the Women of CUA student organization attended the March, the largest group of Catholic students which was present. The group met in Millenium South to make signs on Thursday night before the Saturday morning March. With some upbeat music in the background, the young women of CUA scribbled away at their poster boards.
Raelyn Schnappauf, the president of Women of CUA, stressed the importance of nonpartisanship in the club when discussing her expectations for this year’s March. While Women of CUA and College Democrats share some values, Schnappauf stressed they are “open to women and the equality of them,” not closed to any woman of a certain party.
“The first Women’s March sparked and served as a catalyst for so many other women’s movements around the country and then women to run for office, which is what leads us to this March,” Schnappauf said.
Alexa Routolo, the vice president of the club, expressed excitement for new members to march for the first time.
“A lot of our members are freshmen, so I think it’s really cool to see them get excited about this and be able to be activists for the first time in D.C.,” Routolo said.
At the March, there was some anti-Trump sentiment in the air, but Catholic students had a lot of optimism for the upcoming midterm elections and for women in general. When asked about the March and if she felt it would be as big had Clinton been elected President, Routolo explained, “This has been coming for a long time. This was something that was ready to happen.”
With less people at this march, there was more of a direction. It was more organized. It had similar chants, including “this is what democracy looks like’’, similar pink hats, and a lot of the same people marching. But this March was more political. Participants wanted to bring more women to the polls and into office.
Women of CUA came as a more organized group as well. They represented a small community of Catholic University students in a huge march with people of all ages and backgrounds.
The fact that we can go as a group, an organized officially recognized group for the school and as a community is really great,” Schnappauf said.