Several Temple students spoke about their firsthand experiences at the Presidential Inauguration at Friday’s Teach-In.
Temple students Julia Foley and Evan Hoffman participated in demonstrations in the nation’s capitol. Kirsten Asher, another student, worked locally, marching in a Philadelphia protest.
The students said the demonstrations in both cities were not alike.
In Washington, D.C., tensions ran high, causing protesters to be separated from the actual crowd. As Hoffman described, protesters were led to less noticeable areas behind barricades with a large police force surrounding them.
Foley had problems getting past the checkpoints as she was consistently turned away for having “signs that were too big” or “appearing to be anti-Bush.”
In Philadelphia, over 100 participants marched from Temple University and West Philadelphia to City Hall. Asher, however, felt that the demonstration in Philadelphia was humiliating.
“It was degrading, since Bush wasn’t passing by and there wasn’t anyone there that knew what was going on at that time with the inauguration,” Asher stated.
In the end, the demonstrations were not how students envisioned them.
“It wasn’t really momentous; we just waited for a very long time,” Hoffman said.
Yet students present at the teach-in felt the demonstrations were beneficial.
“In this situation it was important, because the Republicans say we’re upset because we didn’t win, which undermines our opinions. Just because [the president] won, it doesn’t mean we all support him and that those who elected him support him. We need to stand up so people here and abroad don’t think it’s acceptable and so that we’re more likely to get what we want in four years,” Temple student Xandra Kanoff said.
Ryan Zastowney, another student, felt otherwise.
“I think there are much better ways to recruit people for a cause than demonstrations. I don’t think it does anything and I don’t think people know what they want to get out of it. It’s disorganized and confused; there is no strategy or progress. You will not win without a strategy,” Zastowney said.
In both cases students agreed that further steps must be taken. One of those steps can come in the form of teach-ins, which are designed to broaden students’ minds and offer an awareness of the world and historical events.
In this safe environment, students are allowed and encouraged to speak their minds and to guide the discussions within the teach-ins themselves.
“I like to keep the teach-ins varied with different subjects and different points of view,” teach-in coordinator Ralph Young said. “Many students say that each week their thinking evolves and as they delve into the history they see things in a fresh light.”
Erin Schlesing can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.