As Berkeley High School students prepare for the upcoming election of President Donald J. Trump, the weekend of his Inauguration will be fraught with protest.
The nature of American partisan politics perpetuates that, for some, the swearing-in of a new president will be cause for celebration, and for others, a time of mourning.
This year, many have set aside the days following the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump to protest. The Women’s March on Washington (WMW) is planned for January 21, the day after Trump takes the Oath of Office, and similar rallies are being held nationwide. The initial response of the greater BHS community to the election of Donald Trump was to organize a walkout and protest.
In a similar style, the day after the Inauguration many students plan to attend the Women’s March on Washington (WMW) in Washington, DC or one of the local events in Oakland and San Francisco. Despite the title of the march, it is not exclusive to women, and statements made by the event’s organizers highlight diversity and inclusivity.
The official mission statement of the WMW states a goal to “send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office and to the world that women’s rights are human rights,” particularly in response to “the rhetoric of the past election cycle [that] has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us,” sentiments that are similar to the anti-Trump stance that many students align with. Amelia Galbraith, a BHS senior who plans to attend the march in Washington, feels “fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the DC march and represent my community” amidst the diversity of advocates making the pilgrimage to Washington.
Galbraith believes that, as a young person, she needs to stand up for the issues that affect her future. Inspired by the school-wide walkout in November, Galbraith feels that “by participating in this march, I am advocating for my rights as well as being an ally for people across the nation.”
Other students, such as Luis Ferreyra, are planning to attend “sister- marches” in the Bay Area. “I want to show I love my country. I will not let hate rule it,” he said, but also shared a fear: the possibility that the Trump Administration will repeal the Affordable Care Act. Such a change “could really hurt a lot of disabled people by not giving the medical care that they need [and] could result in death of my mom and many other elderly and disabled people.” Ferreyra, whose own mother is disabled, plans to attend the event with his family. Both students commented that since the election, they have noticed that the BHS community has been more engaged in political activism and discussions. Since November 9, the school has issued a formal statement to reiterate inclusive values and denounce Trump’s political viewpoints.
Students have made posters declaring BHS to be a safe space, particularly for students of minority groups whom the Trump campaign targeted. A second walkout is planned for January 20, Inauguration Day, as many BHS students plan to join an afternoon rally organized by CAL students.Whether the walkout will be excused by the school, as was the event on November 9, is currently unknown. Not all BHS students disapprove of a Trump presidency.
In the past few months, several videos have circulated of students arguing over political stances and the views personified by President Trump and his cabinet. BHS students have been preparing for the inauguration in their own ways. Amnesty International of BHS set up a table in the C gallery on January 17 and provided paint, markers, posters and a banner for students going to the marches. Notably, organizers of the Women’s March have stated that their motivation is not to change the outcome of the election, but to demonstrate to the country’s new leaders that the people are paying attention and prepare to hold Donald Trump accountable for whatever actions he takes as president of the United States.