New Juniatian - Spring '17

From Juniata to the White House: Two Juniata Students March for Their Community

By Dan Schaffer

In January, two Juniata students created Huntingdon Resists, an organization designed to coordinate the 10 Actions for the First 100 Days campaign in the Huntingdon area.

The Women’s March on Washington organization created the 10 Actions for the First 100 Days campaign. The campaign aims to take action on important political issues every ten days of Trump’s presidency.

Senior Claire DeLaval and junior Abby Waldorf attended the Woman’s March in Washington, D.C. DeLaval and Waldorf were paired up and marched together, making it to the White House.

Upon returning to Juniata, the two wanted to keep the energy alive back at Juniata. “…on our campus…it’s easy to feel that we’re passed over, or that we can’t get caught up in the momentum of other places,” said DeLaval, “We wanted to keep [the momentum] going on campus and to give people something to get involved in.”

“We both marched together and afterwards we felt the need to keep that momentum going. Instead of just letting it be…more [of a] protest and then just fading away,” said Waldorf.

Given the current political environment in the United States, DeLaval and Waldorf made their goals clear. “Our goals are to give people in Huntingdon opportunities to voice their resistance to the Trump Administration,” said DeLaval, “And also to the wider politics that threaten equality and freedom right now…Basically, our goal is to give people ways to engage in their rights as citizens to dissent together and ways to do that collectively.”

“Our main goal…was to just head up these actions…where all people have to do is just show up. It won’t cost any money. They don’t really have to put that much thought into it. They just have to do it,” said Waldorf.

DeLaval emphasized the importance of Huntingdon Resists not being “just a student group”. “With every event we’ve planned, … the most important logistic is making sure people who aren’t students or staff or faculty at Juniata feel that this is for them, because we’re not a student group. We’re a community group.”

“We started…by wanting to organize the 10 Actions for [the First] 100 Days, and then, as we were organizing the first action, we realized that it would probably be in our best interest to make this an organization”, said Waldorf.

“…each time [10 Actions for the First 100 Days] put [an action] out, we plan it, we schedule it, and advertise it and invite everyone from campus or the community to come to it,” said DeLaval.

“We saw on the Women’s March website the 10 Actions for the First 100 Days program. The first [action] was up by [the day after the march], so we decided, … immediately, that we were going to do it together. That we were going make it happen on campus with the postcard writing campaign,” said DeLaval, “And so, we did. We made it happen.”

Their first event, writing postcards to their state representatives, was largely successful.

“We just had the first event before we were even a club and so many people came,” said Waldorf, “We had a list of… ‘Hey, do you maybe want to know what we’re up to in the future?’ and 100 people put their email [on the list]. It was crazy.” Within 45 minutes of the postcard writing event, all 500 postcards were used. With participants switching to index cards, Huntingdon Resists sent around 675 postcards in total.

Huntingdon Resists’ first event was held in the Stone Church of the Brethren. “The Stone Church has helped [us] enormously,” said DeLaval.

“As long as an organization’s goals contribute to this world, we are glad to share our space,” said Interim Pastor of Stone Church of the Brethren, Anna Lisa Gross, “I have been delighted by Claire and Abby’s passionate and clear leadership and it is meaningful for our congregation to have the building put to use by Juniata students, staff, faculty, and Huntingdon community people, all building solidarity and participating in democracy.”

While Huntingdon Resists gains support throughout the Huntingdon community, keeping momentum will be challenging. “Huntingdon Resists may be a wonderful short-term focusing and energizing organization. Or it may have long-term impact on Juniata’s political engagement,” said Gross, “Either way, it is a fabulous learning experience and opportunity to generate relationships and responsibility.”

Waldorf considers being under the banner of the Woman’s March helpful as it is “eye-catching”. “It seems like people were really willing and were looking for something to do,” said Waldorf, “They were ready for something like this to exist so people were really willing….”

Gross said that although Huntingdon Resists will naturally primarily involve students, her congregation is inspired. “…Our congregation is inspired that young people are serious about their planet and countries and communities. Even the weary among us. Intergenerational efforts are uniquely valuable because each age has unique gifts to offer, when we live fully into ourselves.”

Huntingdon Resists is in the process of becoming a club and plans on hosting more events. “Even though our events are all planned around the 10 Actions for the First 100 Days program…a huge focus is making [this] broader than what people call women’s issues,” said DeLaval, “Abby and I are both people who believe that the things people call women’s issues are not women’s issues. They are [everyone’s] issues.”

“We wanted to reach out into the Huntingdon community because this idea of resistance is…not a big thing in the town of Huntingdon,” said Waldorf, “We thought it’d be good to find some of those excluded bubbles of people who agree with what we are trying to do, mobilize them, and organize them into a group.”

“I think everyone, ourselves included, needs to concentrate on how we can just have dialogues with everyone,” said DeLaval, “no matter where they fall [politically]; no matter what their views are; no matter where the conversation will end up, and no matter whether at the end of [the dialogue] we will come out agreeing with each other.”

Huntingdon Resists can be found here:
https://www.facebook.com/womensmarchhuntingdon/

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