President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration today sees a tepid welcome from both the Georgetown and greater Washington, D.C. community, with wounds still unhealed 11 weeks after the divisive presidential election.
In addition to the official inauguration events, this weekend will see several protests in response to Trump’s presidency, including the Women’s March on Washington, which is expected to feature more than 200,000 attendees Saturday.
Security measures from both local and campus security and police departments have been upgraded to prepare for about 1 million people to attend, celebrate or protest in and around the District.
Madison Thomas (COL ’19), who is the National Coordinator for College Engagement for the Women’s March, said she is expecting a turnout of 20,000 to 50,000 college students alone.
The Georgetown University College Democrats have been arranging for Georgetown students to host students from other colleges for the weekend.
GUCD Chair Meredith Forsyth (SFS ’19) said she plans to bring club members and other Georgetown students to the march, regardless of their political affiliation. GUCD is sponsoring the march.
“I really do feel like it is an inclusive event. You don’t have to be a woman to march. You don’t have to be a Democrat to march. You don’t have to necessarily be against Trump to march,” Forsyth said. “It’s really for anyone who is for women’s rights. Not only women’s rights, but for people of color, trans rights and LGBTQ+ rights.”
Thomas said the protest is not intended as a demonstration against Trump, but to rally support for women’s rights.
“We are marching on Washington. We are not marching at Donald Trump. We are marching at the United States,” Thomas said. “We are saying that women’s rights are human rights, and this is something we have noticed in recent years — that women are increasingly feeling marginalized in their communities, alienated from politics and media. And it’s not something we are willing to stand by and be silent about anymore.”
Georgetown University College Republicans President Allie Williams (SFS ’19) said the GUCR body will be demonstrating support for both Trump and equality during inauguration weekend.
“We were fortunate enough to receive tickets from the Office of Federal Relations and Institute of Politics and Public Service, so many of our members will be attending and celebrating the swearing in of our new president,” Williams said. “However, we also do have some members who will be attending the Women’s’ March to continue advocacy for equal rights, which we, of course, support.”
Forsyth said she hopes the march will act as a spark for GUCD in the future.
“It’s important for us, as GUCD, to lead people to this march, because it will kind of set the tone for us for the rest of the semester,” Forsyth said. “It sets the stage for the role we want to play on campus and in D.C. — hopefully leading the charge for advocacy and holding Trump accountable to being a president for all Americans.”
The weekend begins with a concert Thursday, followed by the inauguration Friday, the swearing-in of Trump and Pence, his inaugural address and the inaugural parade all throughout Friday.
The total inauguration costs could top $200 million based on past celebrations and estimates by officials planning the week’s events. Costs will be divided between the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, a government office, the Presidential Inaugural Committee, organized by private donors and friends of the president-elect and individual federal, state and local departments.
As part of the D.C. Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Georgetown University Police Department’s preparations, 28,000 personnel from three dozen state, local and federal agencies have been on duty in the District this week, according to The Washington Post.
Molly Dunlap (SFS ’20), who plans on attending the Women’s March, said she would not let any fear of backlash stop her from attending.
“Obviously the city will be really polarized, but I really don’t think anything is going to happen at the Women’s March,” Dunlap said.
Trump’s inauguration has already spurred protests in the District. About 200 protesters marched to Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s home in Chevy Chase, Md., last night to protest against his policies toward LGBTQ communities.
Emily Paciulla (MSB ’18), who attended the protest, said it is important for the LGBTQ community and allies to demonstrate their opposition against the Trump administration.
“I think it’s very important that we have the united front considering that our vice president has a very staunch anti-LGBT history. I think it’s important that we make ourselves visible and known, and like obviously Pence wasn’t there,” Paciulla said. “I think it’s more about the message we are sending that we’re already out of the closet and we’re not going back and just kind of creating the space for people to feel welcome and unafraid of who they are.”
Metropolitan Police Department Public Affairs Specialist Aquita Brown said MPD has been coordinating with other law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety of all participators.
“We do anticipate large crowds and are aware of various groups planning on exercising their First Amendment rights,” Brown wrote in an email to The Hoya. “MPD is prepared to both protect the rights of individuals to exercise their First Amendment rights and ensure public safety.”
Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, Georgetown University Police Department Chief of Police Jay Gruber and Assistant Vice President for Emergency Management Tonya Coultas sent an email informing students of rules and safety guidelines for the inauguration weekend.
Olson said students going off campus should exercise caution during a period of heightened tensions.
“I know there could be confrontations and heated exchanges around the city, throughout this weekend,” Olson wrote in a statement to The Hoya. “Just use good judgment, avoid confrontations that may involve some risk, and treat others (even those with whom you may disagree) with respect.”
Gruber said students planning to attend the Inauguration should prepare adequately. The average temperature in the District at noon is around 37 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
“You’re probably going to be walking everywhere you go; because of the exclusion zones, Ubers, buses and taxis won’t be running to a lot of those areas. Make sure you dress appropriately for the weather and wear proper footwear,” Gruber said.
Gruber said students should limit the valuables they carry, due to an expected increase in pickpockets and petty crime.
“Other concerns we have are making sure you don’t have a lot of cash on you and making sure you only bring one credit card with you,” Gruber said.
Coultas said while she encourages students to go out and attend the weekend’s events, students must look out for their own safety.
“Just be smart. As you’re walking around, have situational awareness,” Coultas said. “Pay attention to road signs. Understand where the evacuation routes are, so if you have to evacuate for some reason, you know where you need to go.”
In the event that emergency does strike, Gruber said students can use the LiveSafe app that is free for all students to download and use.
Coultas said students should be wary of their safety on campus in addition to at the inauguration events.
“Just because you’re on campus, don’t think that there are not going to be people here, so make sure no one follows you in or out of your dorm,” Coultas said.
Given the amount of people visiting D.C. for the inauguration, Executive Director for Residential Services Patrick Killilee said students must follow the housing regulations set out by the university in order to ensure their safety.
“Anything that is university-owned, which could include university-owned townhouses — [students] cannot sublet that property,” Killilee said. “We had heard back in 2009 [for President Obama’s first Inauguration] that [The George Washington University] was having some issues with students trying to sublet their rooms.”
For students who choose to stay on campus during Friday’s events, the university is offering services for those looking for self-care, including free Counseling and Psychiatrics Services from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today. Campus Ministry will be open all day.
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