Students fail to start a fencing sport club
Sarah Shelton – Features Editor
Tyler Fisher – Contributor
Fencing is a sport based on the swordsmanship skills used for dueling, commonly featured at the Olympics since the late 19th century; it is a sport that a student wanted to introduce to campus.
Political science major Luke Kim, a freshman, tried to create a fencing club on campus during the Fall 2021 semester.
“Me and another student, Ethan, had this plan ever since the beginning of our first semester, which, you know, obviously was in late summer, early fall,” Kim said. “We both planned everything out accordingly.”
Kim and Ethan said they were very interested in the sport, and believed it could teach a lot to other interested students.
“I think fencing is a sport where it kind of shows a little bit more finesse, but then also shows sportsmanship and it doesn’t discriminate against body image as well,” Kim said. “It’s very flexible and I feel like it’s a good idea for those who are interested. If they’re interested in a sport, but they don’t want to make it a full investment, then I think fencing would have been great.”
Kim said Student Involvement gave them the impression the club was going to happen, but then got rejected.
“We went very far [into the process]. We made our own constitution, as required. We went to all the meetings on how to start a club and we got an advisor, Dr. O’Hara from the political science department,” Kim said. “We did get some ‘it’s all clear,’ ‘you’re good to go,’ but then the last minute, where we were going to establish the club fully, it starts getting cloudy there, and they just straight-up refused.”
Kim said all they were asking from Student Involvement was a space for this club, but it became a financial issue.
“We didn’t even ask for funding as well, we just said, just give us a room, and for the most part, we will fundraise it or have our own equipment,” Kim said. “We even did like statistics as well of because fencing you hold weapons, I’m not going to deny that you’re holding a foil which is a sword, but if the school was worried that we’re going to get a lot of people hurt we did the statistics and we have the evidence that shows that fencing is one of the least dangerous sports in comparison to like, football or track, but they did mention something about money.”
Kim points out that the university advocates for starting new clubs, and then they do not go through with a lot of them.
Daphney Alston, from Student Involvement & Leadership Development, said in response in an email, “a student met with me in hopes to start a fencing club. Due to the nature of the club and liability associated with it, it would have to be considered as a club sport. In collaboration with the Coordinator for Recreation and Fitness, who oversees Club Sports, we concluded that we would not be able to support a fencing club for the following reasons: Limited facility availability for fencing practices on campus or nearby off-campus, Limited resources available to support the liability risks that come with the sport (proper coaching and facility) and Limited funds available within the club sport budget to support a new student organization based on the needs of the group.”
Alston also said in order to start a new club a student needs to attend a mandatory new club workshop, host an interest meeting with at least 10 full-time undergraduate students, secure a full-time faculty or staff member as an advisor, submit a constitution, and receive approval from the Student Government Association (SGA).
“While liability is a factor, accessibility to a facility is the bigger issue, without having a space for the group, we can’t determine a budget,” said Alston.
Alston also mentioned that based on the club’s needs, there was a lack of funds available within the club sport budget to support it.
However, Alston said, “there are funds available for the club sports that we currently have recognized. Club sports are funded differently than other student organizations.” These issues meant that the fencing club would be unable to be established, but there were other options for students interested in fencing.
She added she also offered the option to the students to start a fencing enthusiast club, which “would not need to be club sport and could simply bring people together who have an interest in fencing.”
Kim claimed they made it pretty clear the entire time they wanted to make it into a sport and that they went through the entire process Altson mentioned of creating the club.
SGA President could not be reached for comment after multiple attempts.
“I’m distraught. We weren’t happy because we planned all semester. We put in the effort. We put in the time. We got outside of our comfort zones to convince other people to join us,” Kim said. “We had roughly about 15 students that were interested. What bothered me is that this is the school where the majority of students are commuters, including myself, and the problem is I don’t think it’s really fair for us to put in time and effort just for it to be thrown away.”