The undergraduate student government will provide more free buses to drive students to a demonstration Saturday because of unexpectedly high interest.
Sunday, the Undergraduate Students Association Council Academic Affairs Commission started offering students bus rides to the Women’s March in downtown Los Angeles. Since more than 100 students expressed interest in attending the march, the commission had to expand the service to carry about 300 students.
The buses will depart from the corner of Strathmore and Gayley avenues Saturday at 7 a.m. and drop students off at Pershing Square before picking them up around 2 p.m.
Initially, two buses were available, but the commission worked with the external vice president’s office to secure extra funding, said Academic Affairs Commissioner Ashly Mohankumar. They added four more buses using money from student government offices to help meet the extra demand.
Each bus costs around $500 to rent, said External Vice President Rafi Sands.
“We want to empower anyone that is feeling stigmatized at this point in our history, especially with the inauguration coming up,” Mohankumar said.
Sands said he thinks many people are interested in the march because of its size and the national political climate.
“Wherever you fall under the political spectrum, you would agree the country is divided,” Sands said. “People want to do something that is practical and gives them hope.”
Sands said he thinks the march will get students more involved in political events.
“This will be one of the most historic marches of our time as young people,” Sands said.
Participants in the march will walk from Pershing Square to Los Angeles City Hall and will advocate for women’s rights and other civil liberties.
The march is intentionally scheduled for the day after the presidential inauguration, according to its website. More than 92,000 people have registered to attend the event, which will feature speakers such as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Congresswoman Judy Chu.
The commission created a waitlist Monday for students who did not sign up in time to secure a spot on the bus, Mohankumar said. The waitlist is accepting interested students on a rolling basis. More than 20 students from the waitlist have been given a spot so far, she added.
Many students had not heard about the march, but some said they thought the buses were a good idea.
Emiko Kranz, a fourth-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics student, said she thinks the buses give students interested in the event a chance to participate. Kranz added she does not think that the student government is making a political statement by offering the buses.
“I think it’s great that they’re putting their best foot forward in making it accessible for students to reach those platforms,” Kranz said.
Erin Butt, a second-year sociology major who will be on one of the buses, said she hopes the Women’s March will help teach her how to fight for women’s rights.
“It would be amazing to be part of a huge movement in our political history by standing in solidarity with millions of other women,” she said. “Solidarity means fighting alongside those who have experienced oppression or discrimination, and listening to their stories.”