Columbia Fencing Team to Challenge Trump’s Policies During Visit

Members of the team disapprove of his administration’s stance on gender issues

Columbia Fencing Team to Challenge Trump’s Policies During Visit
The Columbia Lions celebrate their national title. (Jason Miller/NCAA Photos via Getty)
By Evan Bleier / November 22, 2019 12:02 pm

During an upcoming visit with several other NCAA national championship teams, members of the Columbia University fencing team plan to give President Trump a letter criticizing his administration’s stance on gender issues.

The team, which is coed, won its 16th national title in March.

Obtained by The Washington Postthe letter states: “The victory for which you mean to honor us today cannot be separated from the diversity that comprises our team. We as collegiate fencers have committed our athletic careers to understanding how our individual strengths, irrespective of gender, may be best leveraged for the advancement of the collective. But while ours is a victory born from values of gender equality, yours is one shadowed by continued acts of gender-based prejudice and partisanship.”

Team captains Nolen Scruggs and Elise Gout said they will  each try to hand Trump the letter and bring multiple copies of the document in case it is damaged or lost. Members of the team also plan to hold up copies of the letter while taking photos with the president.

“There is this larger conversation over whether athletes should have political views or use their platforms in political ways, but if we are being recognized for our success, we need to stand up for the things that allowed us to have that success in the first place,” Gout told The Post. “We have a responsibility to fight for the values that led us to become national champions. In my opinion, the values that allowed us to win are not valued by this administration.”

Of the 40 members of Columbia’s championship team, about half won’t attend the ceremony due to scheduling conflicts or out of political protest of the Trump administration.

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