Craig Taylor | Staff Writer
The Duquesne Faculty Social Justice Association is organizing a trip for students to the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21.
The march is an independent, national grassroots demonstration held in Washington D.C. for the advancement of women’s rights, as well as other minority groups including the LGBT community, Latino Americans and African Americans. The march takes place the day after president-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, and welcomes people of all genders to participate.
A focus of the event will be addressing the fear and concern held by minorities following this election cycle, namely the spike in hate crimes and hate speech following Trump’s election.
Fred Evans, a Duquesne philosophy professor and coordinator of the Social Justice Association — a coalition of faculty dedicated to promoting social equity on campus — believes the event will be a great opportunity for students interested in the area of social inequality.
“I think the experience of being with a large mass of other people who see something they think is deeply unjust and want to change is an experience that reverberates through the rest of your life,” Evans said.
Although the Women’s March on Washington puts emphasis on women’s social issues, Evans thinks the demonstration will help to expose other social injustices.
“When you’re putting out one kind of bigotry, you’re casting a light on all the other ones as well,” Evans said.
While the march is not a direct protest against president-elect Trump, Evans says his controversial statements regarding women and minorities will be focal point.
“We want to ensure women’s rights, and part of the motivation of doing it at this particular time is there’s been some threat to them that’s been perceived in the rhetoric that’s taking place.”
Faith Bjalobok, another philosophy professor at Duquesne who is helping coordinate the event, agrees students have the opportunity to make a real impact on the trip. Having attended a number of large protests, including those opposing the Vietnam War, Bjalobok believes that peaceful demonstrations can lead to social change.
“I think students will, like when I was younger, gain a sense of solidarity or community from being with like-minded individuals,” she said. “I think it will increase awareness with our representatives that Americans are not supporting all of this homophobia or Islamophobia, because that is not the American way or American values.”
Evans also believes students will feel a sense of community among the thousands of other protesters.
“You have people that come from many individual groups, but agree on a particular theme and therefore march together,” Evans said. “We’re going supporting women as individuals. But also we’re going because we want a particular kind of society for all of us. A society in which women are not viewed in misogynistic or sexist ways.”
Bjalobok said that to enact change it must be fought for, and going to these kinds of events is an opportunity to work towards total social equality.
“I think that if you do nothing, you’re guilty of injustice by omission,” she said. “So then if you are truly committed to justice and fairness for everyone, you have to do something.”
Those interested in participating must send a $50 check to Cheryl Walter, 101909 Lavonne Dr., N. Huntingdon, PA 15642 for a round-trip bus ticket. Additionally, reservations can be made via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for registration is Jan. 2.
Additional information is available on flyers posted across campus as well as on the Women’s March on Washington website.