“St. Kate’s is built on a tradition of strong women. We offer a learning environment that is collaborative and recognizes the contributions of women, past and present… [our mission being to] educate women to lead and influence.” (St. Catherine University)
It has been exactly one month since the history-making Women’s March on Washington. In the wake of such powerful events I can’t help but feel a reaffirmed sense of duty, especially in regards to my identity as a St. Kate’s student. For myself and many others the March gave us an opportunity to actually do something about the societal and political turbulence we’ve been experiencing as of late. I attended the March held in Fort Worth, Texas with my partner; and the experience was entirely surreal. The energy in the air was palpable: Women, Men, and everyone in between walked together holding signs, chanting affirmative slogans, and wearing hand-crafted ‘Pussy Hats.’ I’d be lying to you if I said that I wasn’t bawling like a little kid through parts of it. It was incredibly encouraging to me to feel that I wasn’t alone in the fight for equality.
True to form, St. Kate’s was quite encouraging of student involvement in the event. Many students used the bus chartered by the school in order to get to and from the event held in St. Paul. Others, like Frencia Stephenson ’19, art history major, found alternative ways of transportation. “By the time we got [on the bus] it was packed. It was really cool; all of us were there for the same reason” they said. “A lot of people had trouble getting [to the march] because there were so many people.”
It’s estimated that anywhere from 90,000 to 100,000 people attended the march in St. Paul, Minn.; the largest event since the 2008 Republican National Convention and five times the amount of attendees expected. What’s incredible about this sort of event is the fact that out of all of these people only one was arrested, and they were protesting the March itself. “There was word of [a counter-protester] pepper spraying protesters,” says Stephenson. The man in question was filmed holding an “anti-gay” sign, and yelling at protesters when he suddenly began spraying mace into the faces of everyone surrounding him. He was later arrested under charges of felony assault.
As empowering as the March was, there were some areas of discord expressed from the attendees. One issue brought up was the removal of a pro-life group from the list of official sponsors. Multiple people cited issues with some of the signage displayed at the March involving female genitalia, which arguably can be seen as exclusionary of people who are transgender or gender-nonconforming. Others expressed frustration with the lack of involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement when compared to the Women’s March. Lindsay R. Peoples, a fashion market editor for New York Magazine and racial equality activist writes in an instagram post “[where] were you when our babies were being shot in the streets, locked away in prison, deported away from the only home they’ve known?.. who can’t help but imagine how many of their brothers and sisters and sons and daughters and husbands and partners could have been saved if our oppression and our murder could have inspired 1/10th this level of action and care.”
The general consensus is that this is just the beginning: that much more is going to be required for us to get to a place of equality, but I’d say we’re off to a good start. As Katies, it is my opinion that we should stay alert, informed, and involved to the best of our abilities. We may not be there yet, but so long as we maintain the goal of kindness, patience, and respect I can see no reason why we shouldn’t obtain tangible equality within the span of our lives.