By Quinn Fitzgerald
WASHINGTON – A group of Purdue University students traveled to Washington D.C. to observe and study the inauguration and the women’s march. To their surprise, the findings did not line up with their expectations.
“I think they really enjoyed seeing history being made,” Nadia Brown, associate professor of political science at Purdue University, said. “It just did not live to their expectations of what the inauguration would look like.”
Brown, one of the trip’s coordinators, said she had prepared the group of 18 research students for a much larger crowd.
“They were really surprised that the inauguration was not as well as attended,” Brown said.
The research students interviewed a number of people — both political figures and participants at the events — about their civic engagement and political participation. Their goal is to learn how people are working to express their opinions after a contentious election. When the students return, they will present their findings at a public forum at Purdue.
Brown said the larger turnout of the women’s march is what stands out from their research.
“It’s a night and day comparison,” she said. “The inauguration was not as well attended. There were many more people at the women’s march.”
Her students were overwhelmed by the number of people they were able to talk with at the march.
For Brown, however, one of the most rewarding experiences of the trip was seeing the students grow.
“Everyone has their own idea of what a Trump supporter should be or a person attending the march should be,” she said. “But then the interaction with these women, or Trump supporters, women and men, change their minds. Getting to know people’s experiences and stories and filtering it through their own has been really powerful.”
Quinn Fitzgerald is a reporter TheStatehouseFile.com, a new website powered by Franklin college journalism students.