Marist Women Attend NYC Women's March

Women on Campus Share their Views and Experiences about Participating 

While many Marist students attended the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., there were also a number of students that attended sister marches throughout the country, including the one in New York City.

On the morning of Jan. 21, less than 24 hours after the 45th Presidential Inauguration, some Marist students boarded a Grand Central-bound train surrounded by men and women donning pink “pussy hats” on their heads and carrying large signs for the march. With each stop closer to NYC, more people boarded the train and soon enough, the train was so packed that it was standing room only. Among those Marist students were Annie Callaghan ’18 and Nicole Cochis ’18.

Marist Women Attend NYC Women's March by Adriana Belmonte '17The train ride was a different kind of experience for Cochis, who just came back from studying abroad in Europe where she took trains every weekend. “It’s always fun traveling with people who are like-minded,” she said, “but seeing people come from so many different towns and cities is inspiring. I watched people of all different backgrounds coming on their Saturday mornings to support a cause.”

Callaghan chose to attend the march because she identifies as a feminist. “I feel strongly about being proactive and putting words into action, especially after the election,” she said. However, she did not attend the march with the intention to protest. “Trump holds a lot of power in our country right now and I don’t agree with most of the things he’s doing. However, I went to protect my rights and the rights of others rather than to protest.”

Once Callaghan arrived in NYC, she “immediately” felt a sense of empowerment and optimism. Despite being in a large crowd, something that she does not generally enjoy, Callaghan never felt unsafe at any point, and Cochis agreed.

Cochis was “astounded” at the sheer size of what was going on around her and yet how safe it was at the same time. By the end of the day, she felt accomplished. “It was an unconditionally positive experience,” she said. “Everyone there was welcome, exciting, and happy. Even though there were negative messages, the overall vibe was positive and uplifting.”

“It’s important to use our voices any time our rights are being compromised,” Callaghan emphasized. “I’m marching for all women, not just straight women and not for any other singular group. I’m doing it for everyone who does not share equal rights.”

As a young woman, Sam Leenas ‘17 “fully supports” women’s rights and still believes there is “much progress to make” in furthering equal rights for women. However, she objected to the idea of participating in any of the women’s marches. “A march with an inherent anti-conservative, anti-Trump, pro-choice message is not necessarily an inclusive venue for every woman to participate in,” she explained.

Still, Leenas does not support any negative remarks made against women and believes that peaceful protests are “great,” commending the women who participated and stood up for their own beliefs. 

Amanda Whorlow ’17 shares similar sentiments. Like Leenas, she “fully supports” peaceful protests and “truly respects” those who went out and participated in the Women’s March. However, she noted that a lot of the march was focused on the topic of abortion. “I happen to be pro-life, and I felt that I could not be included in the march due to the fact that I am against abortion,” 

Despite participating in the Women’s March in NYC, Cochis understands why many women feel marginalized by the ideals of the marches.

“By talking about women’s rights on only one side of the spectrum, you’re leaving out so many women that could support the cause,” she said. “We need to bring the ‘wall’ down between Republicans and Democrats. If Republican women can’t be included, that’s not what women’s rights should be for. It’s counterintuitive to make women’s rights a one-party issue.”

The main reason why Cochis attended the Women’s March, she said, is because she considers herself a feminist. “Women’s rights are one of the most important things and current topics that can be improved upon or infringed upon in the next few years,” she said. “It’s something that everybody should be concerned about.”

As for Cochis, her favorite part was not when she was marching but when she finally stopped and got out of line. “We walked past everyone marching and saw all of the people walking by with the signs,” she said. “The sheer positivity of seeing people coming together for one goal…when you’re in it, you don’t know how big it is but stepping out of it was astounding.”

An extended version of this story was originally published on Marist MediaHub.

Photo and story by Adriana Belmonte '17

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