Fencing Team Sees Revival

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A club that was dead has been born again!

   Just a few months ago, Brooklyn College’s Fencing Club seemed to be doomed due to a lack of funding and communication from the Undergraduate Student Government. 

   Beginning in Spring 2018, the Fencing Club was founded by Nick Wongshue and Farhad Rahman, the club’s President and Treasurer, respectively. The club was originally funded by CLAS in the form of reimbursements, since the conversion of the new student government had not yet occurred. Wongshue recalls how easy it was to receive funding during this time. “Previously, the process of receiving funding was simple. We would fill out an excel spreadsheet of the items we were requesting and include the cost and the web address the item was from. Then we would attend a meeting to pitch our requests, and then we would wait for the approval,” he said. 

   According to Rahman, the Fencing Club was unable to host any formal meetings because there was a lack of communication from USG or Student Activities regarding the reallocation of the club’s promised budget once the government turned over. Naturally, funding is of the utmost importance to the Fencing Club due to high expenses in the form of equipment, events, and refreshments.

   Despite the looming question of funding, Wongshue revealed that the Fencing Club never actually died. 

   “The club was [last] active in the Fall 2019 semester. We were given the approval to have our meetings in the Student Center, but it was difficult to properly conduct our meetings in that room due to our club being a sport,” said Wongshue. 

   This news came during a time of unrest at Brooklyn College regarding USG’s funding allocations. In November 2019, many students expressed a great distaste with USG allotting a significant amount of money from the student activity fee to pay Joy Villa, a conservative singer-songwriter, to speak on campus to a handful of students instead of using those funds to benefit the entire Brooklyn College community. The event in question was eventually canceled. This is something that resonates with both Wongshue and Rahman, who believe that students should have a say in what their money goes, and USG should have a more effective way of communicating it. 

   “The activity fee that all students pay should be equally distributed and readily available to all clubs and when there is an important activity that needs funding. I think a voting system or something of the sort should be in place when decisions like this,” Wongshue said. 

   In December 2019, USG President Alyssa Taylor said she was unaware of the situation, but vowing to speak with the Treasurer, the Club Director, and Student Activities to “get a clearer picture of the situation.”

   After investigating the matter, Taylor told the Vanguard that the Fencing Club’s registration was “pending.”

   “Any clubs not fully active has their portal frozen and as a result they are unable to submit events and receive funding. Their inactive status is the result of missing paperwork,” she said, “Within the bylaws USG, Article 2, Section 16, Point 7 states ‘Grant requests shall not be approved for suspended organizations, even upon a vote of the Club Funding Council or Executive Cabinet,’ therefore the Fencing Club may not receive funding,” Taylor clarified.

   As for the perceived lack of communication by Wongshue and Rahman, Taylor indicated this feeling to be mutual.

   “It was expressed to us that the Fencing club e-board members have [been] contacted regarding this matter, and have not responded to communications at this time,” said Taylor

    With both sides eager to resolve this matter and move forward, it seems like the Fencing Club should get a new lease on life. When presented with the new information, Rahman confirmed having received a voicemail on November 27th from Student Activities.

    Since then, Wongshue confirmed to the Vanguard that the club is currently “active,” revealing that the club became “unfrozen” after they submitted their signature cards to Student Activities, as requested. 

   The matter, however, is still far from resolved.

   “I have sent emails to the student government, but have not received a response to know the budget approval process. We last received funding in the spring of 2018 when the process was more robust but now I am confused about whether or not I will receive funding at all,” Wongshue said. 

   Nonetheless, both Wongshue and Rahman are hopeful regarding the club’s fate, but remain somewhat dubious.

   “I am optimistic…but because of the lack of support, I am a bit hesitant if it’s still worth it to continue to pursue. The best case scenario would be for the fencing club to have better communication with the student government, a direct point of contact to assist in the funding process and all other concerns that need to be addressed,” Wongshue said.

   As of today, the Fencing Club will be active for the Spring 2020 semester, but there are still some questions and concerns regarding its fate. Despite this, however, both Wongshue and Rahman are confident their efforts to save the club will pay off. “The club is going to be revived […] The club has more people than we expected when we first operated,”  said Rahman.