Fencing Team Banned from North Dakota State University Because of "Weapons Policy"

Christine Rousselle

5/13/2014 5:00:00 PM - Christine Rousselle

Fencing, an Olympic sport sponsored by more than 30 NCAA schools, involves two athletes engaging in what is effectively a sword fight with a foil, saber, or épée. The equipment is blunted and does not have any actual blades or sharp tips. Unfortunately, for the newly-formed club fencing team at North Dakota State University, fencing equipment counts as a weapon, and the club has been barred from practicing on campus.

Naturally, the club members and their coach are not thrilled about this decision:

"The current interpretation of the non-weapon policy in NDSU...understands our fencing equipment as weapons," says the club's coach Enrique Alvarez.

Alvarez has been fencing since his early teens. He says despite their appearance, the foils, epees and sabers they use don't have sharp edges or points.

"This is a spring and a flat tip that if you press the spring against the body of the other person, will be awarded a point," he demonstrates.

Nonetheless, NDSU's Police and Safety Office Director Ray Boyer cited the school's policy manual and Code of Student Behavior, saying sabers and swords are prohibited on campus:

"They are deemed weapons, and as such, possession or use on University owned or controlled property is prohibited," he says.

The team has been forced to practice off-campus, a move they say has reduced the number of members in the club.

This policy is ridiculous, especially considering that NDSU has baseball, softball, and golf teams that presumably are permitted to practice on campus. Fencing equipment is not lethal, whereas baseball bats and golf clubs have actually been used to kill people. The school is certainly overreacting in this situation.