Permits for 393 bus permits were requested for inauguration day in Washington, D.C. For the Women’s March on Washington, 1,200 bus permits were requested, including a bus organized by LSA seniors Lalitha Ramaswamy and Florence Rivkin.
Ramaswamy and Rivkin began organizing the bus in November. They’re roommates who’ve been friends since high school, and after Donald Trump was elected, a family friend of Rivkin suggested she organize busses to the march.
“[F]irst they were both saying, oh, let’s just move out of the country and after we were talking more and more they were like, ‘no we can’t,'” said her family friend Kathy Bartson, who came up with the idea after having breakfast with her daughter Christina and Florence. “‘We’re the generation that needs to help make change and help fight this turning back the clock.’ So I just casually said you should organize the bus to take all of the student to DC and [Florence] said, that’s a great idea.”
“And I came home and Lalitha was sitting in our room and I was like, should we do this?” Rivkin said. “And she was like, yeah. And she made the Facebook event … and we ordered the bus the next day.”
The pair reached out to student organizations around campus including the Muslim Students Association and the Black Student Union and soon had enough people to fill two busses, although they ended up with one.
“In the moment were very frustrated with not knowing what to do, because we knew we wanted to do something but it was like, what can we do really?” said Ramaswamy. “It kind of let us vent our frustrations and pour our energy into this.”
Rivkin and Ramaswamy organized transportation for 51 women and four men, including themselves. They left at 8:15 a.m. Friday and returned home Sunday at 9:00 p.m., and on the bus, they had each person introduce themselves and explain why they were there. Here’s six of them.
“Raise your hand if you’re a feminist,” Rivkin said. 55 people raised their hands.
Susan Rose of Saline traveled to the march in support of women’s health care. “I thought it was important because I am a supporter of Planned Parenthood,” she said. “I want women to be able to make their own health care choices and I feel that like that’s something the government should do for us.”
Linda Colman of Ann Arbor said she took the bus to Washington, D.C. to have her voice heard.
“I’m concerned about health care for everyone,” she said. “I’m also older, so I’m concerned about social security and medicare, and also medicaid and Planned Parenthood because I think that’s important. I also don’t like Donald Trump as a person … I don’t think he’s qualified to do the job and I worry about his temperment. I decided it would be fun to travel with all of these female students and see what all of the young people were doing. I was in college in the 60s and during the Vietnam War I did some marching around locally but I’ve never traveled to Washington to take part in a protest, so I think it’s high time I did that, and I’m hoping I can also join some friends locally and start up some small grassroots organizations to talk about politics and how we can see one another through that because I think this is difficult for everybody. There’s a lot to get done and it’s time to get started. Today’s the day.”
LSA sophomore Tansy Massey-Green said she decided to come to Washington for the march because she was devastated after the election.
“I talked to my mom a lot who went to U of M and was really big into political activism, and the first thing she told me was, like a lot of people said, to get involved. And I thought this was the most exciting and immediate way to get involved besides going and helping out back at home with volunteer organizations and stuff. I’m able to be here and I’m able to go and protest, I feel like I’m not going to get hit hard by legislation that will be passed but a lot of people are and I’m here to represent them.”
LSA sophomore Elizabeth Pratt was inspired to go after the Trump victory.
“I did work with the Hillary campaign and that loss was so devastating that it gave me perspective … we all need to get out here and work harder and realize that we still have a lot of progress to make with rights for all different people. And I think this seemed like the right thing to do and the right place to be in order to stand up for everyone in the country and bring us together.”
Kathy and Brent Bartson live in Ann Arbor. After the election, Kathy went out for breakfast a few times with her daughter Christina and a friend, LSA senior Florence Rivkin.
“[F]irst they were both saying, oh, let’s just move out of the country and after we were talking more and more they were like, ‘no we can’t,'” Kathy said. “‘We’re the generation that needs to help make change and help fight this turning back the clock.’ So I just casually said you should organize the bus to take all of the student to DC and [Florence] said, that’s a great idea.” Kathy and Brent explained why they chose to take the bus to D.C. for the march. “I have two daughters that are in their 20s,” Kathy said. “And one of my daughters is a type one diabetic and relies on having affordable health care to be able to stay alive. It’s nothing that she can help having, it just happens to folks. I’m worried about that and worried about our environment … I’m frightened.” Brent said Trump’s comments about women, the disabled and Mexicans were appalling. “It’s just so disrespectful and crude and rude and unhelpful to making society a better place,” he said. “The guy should not have been validated by being given the office he was given.” Kathy remembered another conversation she had with the girls at brunch. “They were very distraught, right, about what was happening, and feeling very powerless … and I said, well you don’t have to feel powerless,. You can organize. You can, you have the ability and the skills, you can do this.”