Riley Gaines Visits NDSU During Pride Month

On Wednesday, April 10, Riley Gaines spoke at Gate City Bank Auditorium at NDSU. Gaines, a former Division 1 swimmer from the University of Kentucky and founder of The Riley Gaines Center at the Leadership Institute, collaborated with Turning Point USA to speak to students of North Dakota State University about her experience and stance on competing against Lia Thomas. 

In Atlanta, Georgia, the Georgia Institute of Technology hosted the 2022 NCAA Division 1 Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships. Key individuals competing in this meet were Riley Gaines and Lia Thomas. Thomas was the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division 1 title, which led to Gaines becoming a public speaker and founder of The Riley Gaines Center. Gaines founded her movement on the basis of disagreeing with the NCAA decision to allow Lia Thomas to participate in the 2022 championships.

Gaines travels across the country to speak to students of various universities on her mission “to build a movement to stand up for women’s sports and common-sense American values,” according to her mission statement on the Riley Gaines Center website. The “About Riley” section of the center’s website includes many statements and claims displaying Gaines’ core values such as “I’m not anti-trans. I’m pro-woman,” and “It shouldn’t be controversial to say that there are only two sexes, you can’t change your sex, and each sex is deserving of equal opportunities.”

Along with the Riley Gaines Center, Turning Point USA also took part in the event this previous Wednesday. Turning Point USA includes its core values and goals in the “About” section of the TPUSA website. “Turning Point USA has embarked on a mission to build the most organized, active, and powerful conservative grassroots activist network on high school and college campuses across the country,” is one statement that can be found on their website along with their core values: “The United States of America is the greatest country in the history of the world,” “The U.S. Constitution is the most exceptional political document ever written,” and “Capitalism is the most moral and proven economic system ever discovered.” The Riley Gaines Center and TPUSA spoke together at this event. 

News of Gaines coming to NDSU as a speaker was met with disapproval from certain students and faculty members as April is Pride Month at NDSU and some have deemed it an “inappropriate” time to host this speaker. Among those disapproving of Gaines’ event was the NDSU Pride Alliance. Days before the event, a protest was rumored to be held outside of the Gate City Auditorium before the speech. However the day of the event, the NDSU Pride Alliance had a change of plans in their course of action.

Emma Dodds, president of the Pride Alliance, stated in an email that Dr. Christopher Whitsel would be at the auditorium; however, the rest of the Pride Alliance would be attending a meeting in Memorial Union. “As Emma mentioned, the students wanted to have a party focusing on queer creativity away from the diverse speaker. There’s the Pizza With Pride event in the Union that will be a focus for us,” stated Dr. Whitsel in an email pertaining to the possibility of a protest of Riley Gaines’ event. 

The event had a fairly large turnout and was covered by a couple of local news outlets. On the flip side, there was no protest as the NDSU Pride Alliance would like to put the focus on a more positive light such as upcoming Pride Month events celebrating queer messages and ideals. 

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