Riley Gaines and Enlightened Women Reclaim Feminism

This semester, Riley Gaines has traveled to NeW chapters at universities nationwide as part of her “Reclaim Feminism” speaker tour. The Riley Gaines Center at the Leadership Institute and NeW have partnered to host Riley on eight different campus events this spring.

In March, Riley stopped by The University of Tampa, where she shared her story and how she became an advocate for protecting women’s sports. Riley, a 12-time All-American swimmer with 5 SEC titles, spoke to students and guests about how her involvement in sports changed her life and turned her into an advocate for women’s rights.

Riley Gaines committed to the University of Kentucky as a student-athlete after high school, deciding to do so following a visit to the campus. Gaines came into the spotlight following an that went viral involving Gaines and transgender swimmer Lia Thomas. That spring, Gaines swam in the 200-freestyle final at the NCAA Women’s Championships. Thomas swam in the event as well, despite being a biological male. In a miraculous ending, Gaines and Thomas tied for fifth place.

Gaines explained to the audience that she was told by an NCAA representative that Thomas needed to be holding the trophy in photos and that Gaines would be sent a trophy later. After this experience, Gaines says she knew she couldn’t be silent any longer.

Gaines spoke about her teammates and friends forced to change in the women’s locker room with Thomas, and how they felt administration didn’t listen to their concerns. She also gave an update on her recent involvement in the lawsuit accusing the NCAA of violating Title IX rights, and the work that various states have been doing to protect women’s sports.

Following her speech, NeW leaders and event volunteers were able to take a photo and chat more with Riley about their personal experiences on campus.

Thank you, Riley, for traveling to speak to our students and visit our chapters nationwide!

At the Network of enlightened Women, we dedicate ourselves to bringing exciting experiences and opportunities to our chapters across the country. Learn more about starting a chapter and how you can host speakers like Riley on your campus here.



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