On Friday, members of the 2019 Championship fencing team from Columbia University’s planned on hand-delivering a letter to Donald Trump accusing him and his administration of having “perpetuated a culture that conditions women and minority gender identities to be silent.”
Elise Gout and three other members of the fencing team had written a letter to Trump that they had planned on handing him during a White House visit that included athletes and coaches from 22 different collegiate national championship teams.
In the letter, the women criticized the Trump administration for trying to change federal rules that would affect sexual assault survivors on campuses as well as for implementing regulations that would prohibit certain groups from receiving federal grants if they referred patients for abortion.
Gout shares that a Trump aide informed her that she was not permitted to bring the letter to the East Room.
“We passed the letter to a member of the (White House) press team, but it remains unclear if (the press team spokesman) will actually deliver it as he said he would,” Gout shared.
Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, would later state that the Columbia fencers’ visit with Trump was “cordial,” and that White House staff extended an invitation for the athletes and coach to come back to the White House at a later date so that they could discuss their policy concerns.
On Saturday Gout posted the following to her Facebook page: “Yesterday, I visited the White House upon invitation as a member of the 2019 NCAA Championship Fencing Team. Rather than decline the invitation, I and 12 of my teammates sought to use the opportunity to engage President Trump and his administration on issues of gender equality. We wore white buttons while meeting the President as a physical demonstration of our dissent. I and Nolen Scruggs also sought to deliver a letter to President Trump articulating the values of gender diversity for which we stand – values we believe the administration continues to threaten and undermine. If we, as athletes, are to be recognized for our success, we have a responsibility to fight for the values and the freedoms that enable such success in the first place.”
The letter, which contained only four signatures, noted that it represented only their views and not the entire fencing team or Columbia University.