Dominican Students Protest at Women’s March

February 7, 2017

By Natalie Rodriguez

The day after Donald Trump’s inauguration saw massive worldwide protests. Jan. 21 was a day of solidarity for millions as they gathered together in the Women’s March. In Chicago, an estimated 250,000 people showed up, several of which were Dominican students.

SGA Vice President, Hugh Toner, went because he wanted to support the women in his family.

“I have older sisters and then, of course, my mom,” Toner said. “My older sisters they watched out for me so I wanted to be there.”

More people showed up to the rally than expected. Organizers planned a rally, guest speakers and then the actual march. However, by 11:30 a.m. it was announced that the official march was cancelled.

Regardless of the announcement, people marched anyway.

“It was just a mass of people, it was crazy and insanely awesome,” said Communications Professor CarrieLynn Reinhard. “It was kind of like the floodgates just opened and people started marching and taking over the streets.”

Senior, Diana Hernandez, believes that the city was frightened by the size of the rally.

“To be honest, I think they were just afraid of the amount of people and if we actually started marching down the streets we had the capacity to shut down half of the city-or all the city,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez, who also works with Dominican’s ministry center as a community outreach intern, was one of the students who, along with professor Reinhard, helped spread the word on campus via Facebook and email.

“The biggest reason why I went to the Women’s March was to advocate for a woman to have her own choice over her body,” Hernandez said. “Since they’re trying to make abortion illegal, I feel like women don’t have a choice over their body anymore, I mean they never have really.”

Sophomore Joseline Cano marched in support of different issues.

“I went specifically for immigration rights for DACA students, rights for my own body and rights for equal pay,” she said.

Despite the overwhelming amount of protesters, there was a shared positivity amongst the crowd.

“It was surreal,” Toner said. “I’ve never been in an atmosphere like that. Everybody was so warm, inviting, we were all there for the same goal.”

“I loved it,” Cano said. “I like taking part in protests but it was just a whole different environment when I was there because there were so many people and they were all protesting for different things, which was really awesome to see.”

The women’s march protesters fought for a variety of different issues but many agreed that solidarity was the main goal.

“Solidarity,” Reinhard said. “To show that there are people out there who will fight for one another if the situation is called for. Stand up for one another.”

Although the Women’s March was peaceful and welcoming, there were criticisms afterwards.

“I don’t know if I was surprised but I noticed that there were a lot of people who looked like me and I’m a white woman,” Sophomore Gabriella Fusco Fusco said. “One of the things that I’ve heard, especially from people who support the Black Lives Matter, is that they are always at our movements but where are we when they have their protests?”

Cano agreed with Fusco’s statements.

“I always feel that standing in solidarity with groups even though you don’t necessarily relate to their issues or experience it firsthand,” Cano said.

It’s important to not let the energy of protestors fizzle out as more challenges to equal rights come along. Hugh Toner believes that being involved in politics is essential.

“Right now, we should hold more marches and rallies, but I really do believe that the best way to promote change and to keep the rights that we have for everyone as well as expanding them, would be to reach out to your representatives,” Toner said.

Reinhard thinks that taking care of yourself is also important if you plan on fighting for a long time.

“Remember that it’s the long-term,” Reinhard said. “We have to do peaceful protests for as long as possible and we have to stay vigilant in order to know when it’s the proper time to do so. But because it is long-term we also have to make sure we’re practicing good self-care. We can’t always think that we have to respond to everything because that’s just going to lead to exhaustion.”

One thing is clear to Cano-the people of this nation will fight on.

“The protest’s main purpose was to show others –the government or supporters or people that have that mentality-that we aren’t going to be pushed aside anymore and that we’re going to continue fighting.”

rodrnata@my.dom.edu