Students active in post-march campaign on local political outreach

Delaney Dammeyer February 2, 2017 0

he Mosaic House is hosting multiple activities created by the Women’s March on Washington organizers. These activities, known as the “Ten Actions in the First 100 Days,” are putting people in touch with their local governments and giving Americans an outlet to voice their concerns.

The election of President Donald J. Trump in November 2016 stirred a lot of unrest as citizens questioned his ability to lead effectively. Trump’s inauguration Friday, Jan. 20 had mixed responses. What made the inauguration weekend unlike any other was the overwhelming presence of protesters in Washington the day after. Over 500,000 protesters were counted at the Women’s March on Washington, and similar marches were led on every continent.

The Women’s March on Washington was organized shortly after the election in November by Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour and Bob Bland. Together, they created an effective cabinet of educated activists, lawyers, politicians and businesswomen to organize groups and political outreach programs.

All four are activists for human rights. They met at the tail end of 2016 with one question for themselves and the American public: what can we do to make ourselves heard? The Women’s March was the first step in a larger goal of getting the average American concerned for their country’s politics.

Since the Jan. 21 march, the Women’s March co-chairs have taken to social media and made the movement accessible through their website www.womensmarch.com. The growing group of activists have launched the “Ten Actions in the First 100 Days” campaign. Released every 10 days, a new project will allow the public to contact their local governments and make their voices heard on the coming agenda. The Women’s March campaign wants to make political action easily accessible to the public and offers tools to make it possible.

The first action listed on the website is to send postcards to state senators. Since these senators have to cast votes for bills and create state bills themselves, they play important roles in advocating for their state population’s concerns.

The Mosaic House hit the ground running Thursday, Jan. 26 by making posters promoting a tabling event based on the first action. From 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., volunteers sat at a table just outside the Marketplace and provided Women’s March postcards, pens and senators’ addresses in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Throughout the lunch period, students were encouraged to write letters to their senators on issues such as health care, immigration, reproductive rights, education and LGBT rights.

Elizabethtown Interim Coordinator of Multicultural Programming and Residential Communities Stephanie Collins shared how her experiences at the Women’s March and student activism have shaped Etown involvement in the Ten Actions campaign.

“It was a really great display of solidarity,” Collins said. “That gathering of hundreds of thousands of different people, that is what makes our community and country great.”

The Mosaic House and student body got involved with the campaign because of a shared concern. “Most of the issues discussed at the march were similar to the concerns students had shared with me in the past,” Collins said. “I believe in sharing the campaign with the students because I felt like they could relate and sympathize with those problems in our society and government.”

What was apparent at the postcard table was this: students were fearful, but not without hope. Though most shared similar disbelief, anger and worry over the recent legislative action taken in President Trump’s first week, most filled out multiple postcards with the belief that they could make a difference.

Sophomore music education major Veronica Morales volunteered on the first day and throughout the two hours wrote over 10 letters. “Education is my main concern because our current secretary of education [Betsy DeVos] doesn’t have enough experience,” Morales said.

Morales is like many of the Mosaic House’s volunteers. She keeps herself informed on reliable sources, discusses current events with her peers and, despite cynical outlooks, keeps on working towards a better outcome. For Morales and others, this is not just a choice, but a way of life.

“My family is very politically active because my mother and her six siblings emigrated from South America before I was born,” Morales said. “They’ve always told me to stand up for my rights and fight for what I believe in.”

Friday’s volunteer sophomore biology major, Rehana Persaud, shared a similar outlook. “I was at the march, and it was so empowering seeing that many people there,” Persaud said. “It got me thinking, ‘maybe we can change things.’”

After collecting over 100 postcards in two days, Collins shared her thoughts on the effectiveness of individual activism. “The reason why this campaign works, was because people didn’t just go home and do nothing after the march,” Collins said.

“People continue to do the work necessary to be heard after the initial cry for attention, and that is how we succeed.”

The Mosaic House will continue to host events surrounding the Ten Actions as they are released.

 

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