By Heather Fabritze
Elm Staff Writer
On Oct. 2, the WAC Student Democrats hosted a trip to rally for reproductive rights at a Women’s March in Annapolis, Md.
The WAC Democrats attended the march from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., 13 members of the group were in attendance, along with other Washington College students. Students provided transportation for the event via carpool.
Junior Nick Splendoria, president of the WAC Democrats, first discovered the event through correspondence with other outside progressive groups. The march was widely publicized by the official Women’s March website within these circles.
Splendoria felt that it was necessary to react to such a “major issue,” especially since it’s one that’s relevant to many students on WC’s campus.
He spread word of the march through social media, including posts on his personal Instagram story and the official @wac_democrats Instagram page. The event was also announced during the WC Student Government Association Senate meetings.
Sophomore Mackenzie Ford, who discovered the event through both social media and SGA, attended because she believes in a woman’s right to get an abortion if that is what she chooses.
Reflecting on the march, she described the experience as “empowering.”
“To see all of these people — women, children, and even so many men — coming to support the cause made me feel like our voices had a chance of being heard,” Ford said. “Women were given the space to share their personal experiences with abortion, and hearing real women talk about their real experiences just solidified why we fight.”
Sophomore Abigail Collins also felt that the personal stories shaped her viewpoint and comprehension moving forward.
“The experience made me feel like I wasn’t alone, knowing so many people gathered to stand up for…women’s bodily autonomy made me so happy,” Collins said. “Hearing everyone’s stories helped me understand the depth of the issue. I feel like the stories and the people pushed the boundaries of my understanding. I loved every second of it.”
WC students created their own protest signs at a sign-making session the day before the march. Some of these included messages such as “Abortion is healthcare,” “Girls just want to have fun-damental rights,” and “Respect our existence or expect our resistance.”
Attendees of the event included Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen, various gubernatorial candidates, and some statewide officials. Although seeing such figures of power in attendance made Splendoria feel “hopeful,” it was also equally “upsetting” and “angering” that there was need for a march at all.
However, he hopes that this experience will lead to WC students advocating for the issue more.
“I think it’s a really great starting point because, you know, I think everyone knows abortion access and reproductive rights are an important issue, but there’s not been a lot of talk about it on campus or any events,” Splendoria said. “So, I’m hoping that all of us are inspired from this rally, kind of joining with people in solidarity, to now bring that back to campus and have more discussions about abortion access in the United States and, also, Maryland.”
Collins agrees, and feels that the march definitely achieved that purpose regarding her own desire to advocate in the future.
“I didn’t know it was possible, but this experience has made me want to fight even harder for the right to choose,” Collins said. “The people I met from all corners of the state showed the drastic diversity of this issue. It also gave me hope that one day everyone will have access to safe abortion without having to worry about politics.”