Inauguration Day Rally: Introducing the Newest Age of Activism

Students and faculty who stand against the incoming Trump administration plan to descend upon the steps of the Olympia State Capital legislative building on Inauguration Day, Jan 20 from 9 am- 12. The demonstration was set into motion by a group of high school students from Olympia High school, but activists from all area high schools and colleges are invited to participate. Emi Grant and Caroline Arnis, two of the student who are organizing the Inauguration Youth-Led Rally, are hoping to “change the way people think about voting.” Interestingly, neither Grant or Arnis were eligible to vote in last November’s election. Grant says this is “not an angry teenager approach”, but is based on a strong desire to get young people interested in politics and to educate the incoming generation of voters. Organizers are hoping for participation numbers that represent a “Historic Event”. They want students to be driven by the idea that “this is how we change things” instead of worrying about “what I’m going to miss.”

A group of students and faculty from South Puget Sound Community College and a group from Evergreen State College plan to participate in the Inauguration Day rally. The initial planning meeting, held on campus during winter break, was led by Rob Cherry, David Hyde and Eileen Yoshina. The group discussed fears and concerns about incoming President Trump and how to best send a message that rejects the legitimacy of the elect and the character of the President-elect, resists policies and appointments that threaten equality and supports those who are most effected by the proposed policies and the climate of hate. The group of 18-20 created a formal agenda, formulated a plan to get more students involved, designated tasks to prepare for the rally and set a goal of 3000+ demonstration attendees.

Activism is not a new concept for college students. Major historic movements have often begun with students on college campuses across the country. The involvement of high school age students has added fresh momentum to activism. Grant and Arnis described themselves as part of a generation that has been focused on surviving. A generation that is tired of being told, “That’s not realistic- How dare you ask for that!?” Arnis expressed frustration with the lack of encouragement and the added bureaucracy that she often feels from adults. Their answer is, “NO! If we have strong voices, if we ask for the things we deserve, then we can get them.”

These two millennials are determined to fight against apathy and complacency. “There are places where the system is failing. Checks and balances, nepotism, the electoral college.” Grant says, “[the government] is lacking courage and integrity. We must examine how it works and come up with ways to fix it.” Grant and Arnis believe that if we let Trump win without protest, “we are forgetting about the people who never get what they want,” the people who are not participating in the discussion, the people who will not raise their hand or the ones who don’t know where to start. These young activists also want President-elect Trump to know that they are watching, listening, learning and soon enough, they will be voting.

This Friday, Jan 6 at 12:30 another planning meeting will be held in the SUB bldg. 27 if students, staff or faculty are interested in more information or participation in the demonstration.