- Saphire Ruiz
Rosary Club, AHI, & CDO Martinez: Hamilton’s Commitment to Defending White Supremacy
Updated: Jun 25, 2022
I originally had no intentions to spend any more time or energy on the Rosary Club fiasco. But then Chief Diversity Officer Martinez decided that one of the best things she could do on her way out was to defend blatant anti-Blackness, homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny.
In light of this defense, I felt it necessary to deconstruct and contextualize CDO Martinez’s email, similar to something activists at Hamilton have done in the past (Bancroft 2008).
Before I delve into CDO Martinez’s truly nauseating email, let’s recall the events of the past few months that led to it.
This semester the Director of Student Activities permitted a loosely-defined group, apparently outside official organization recognition procedures, to form and gain notices email access: the Rosary Club. This traditionally Catholic organization immediately faced backlash and mockery due to its self-victimization and eventually very clear anti-choice and homophobic beliefs. In early March, I wrote a piece about Rosary Club and the implications of having a campus organization like it on campus. Rosary Club has also been mocked on jodel, in The Duel Observer, The Daily Bull, and definitely within many social circles.
On April 11th, Devin Mendelson ‘22 turned to the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI), our favorite local white supremacist think tank, to write about how he and his organization are facing “suppresion” for being traditionally Catholic in Enquiry, the AHI Undergraduate’s publication.
The irony in his piece is that while there are certainly folks who conflate his own beliefs with Catholicism itself (which I disagree with and address in my piece from March), the vast majority of the criticism Mendelson and Rosary Club have faced has been incredibly valid and further proven by Mendelson’s piece.
After referring to my March article as a “hit piece” (thanks for the views and clicks btw), Mendelson decided to give more ammunition to the criticism that he and Rosary Club have faced.
Using religion to claim that non-cisgender and heterosexual relationships are “sinful,” as he does in his peice, is obviously going to cause backlash against your organization, as it absolutely should. So will making obvious your disgust with trans people via your claim that you and other “pious students” are being “subjected to” emails about a Black drag queen visiting campus. If someone can’t even handle emails that feature trans individuals, it is not hard to imagine how they treat trans people in person.
Being religious does not, under any circumstances, give anyone the right to freely spread hate (because that’s what it is) against LGBTQ+ individuals and face no consequences. An organization having their privileges threatened/revoked or facing public shaming/mocking for spreading this hate isn’t discrimination. In fact, it’s primarily people protecting the rights and lives of marginalized peoples, bringing awareness to the harm said organization is causing.
So what does any of this have to do with AHI, Martinez, and by extension Hamilton?
As explained in Mendelson’s piece, President Wippman had some level of influence over the decision to allow Rosary Club to continue to operate, despite the hate it spreads against LGBTQ+ people, Black people, and women. Only a week after Wippman “replied saying he would pass” Mendelson’s cry of discrimination “along to the Dean of Students office” did the Director of Student Activities (whose boss is CDO Martinez) allow Rosary Club to gain back its email access. There is significant reason to believe that Rosary Club regained its access not because the Director simply had a “reassessment,” as she claims, but because she was pushed by senior staff to give the access back before it became a huge controversy.
Just a few days after Mendelson’s piece, The College Fix, another white supremacist organization, which specifically “reports” on colleges and universities and has targeted myself, the DMC, and other students before, decided to “report” on the “suppression” of Rosary Club. In the piece, the writer points out sports banners using sex jokes and mocking religion, Duel Observer’s peices on Rosary Club, and the fact that the organization has been signed up for memberships to places like The Satanic Temple.
And then of course, as it has done many times in the past on anything it writes about Hamilton, The College Fix specifically reached out to former Professor Robert Paquette, founder and president of AHI, for comment. Paquette, as always, made a comment about how Mendelson and Rosary Club are specifically being allowed to be targeted (love the use of “transgenders” btw Bob), and how “woke activists” “have become gross and insulting.” My favorite part is when Paquette claims the Administration is doing nothing to support Mendelson.
It is completely unsurprising that this has reached College Fix, especially given that AHI has used this publication to target students before. In May 2021, the publication reported on an email I sent to the campus community (Walker 2021) in my capacity as the President of Student Assembly (which had to have been sent to The College Fix from someone with Hamilton email access, as it wasn’t a public email), which then led to me receiving a threatening letter from a random white supremacist in Wisconsin. The piece in College Fix also had a comment form Paquette, obviously, even though I’ve never met him and he knows nothing about me, or my work.
Despite the fact that it went to the Board of Trustees (the guy who sent the letter thought I was the president of the College), Hamilton never actually did anything about this letter, other than ban the person who sent it from campus (and only after I personally brought it to the attention of Director of Campus Safety Frank Coots). And I got lucky, because this person has articles written about him sending actual death threats to student activists at other campuses.
I also got lucky because the article on my email, while popular, hadn’t reached many circles. The article on Rosary Club, however, has gotten significantly more attention, and I have absolutely no doubts that the College has received all kinds of emails and calls from random white supremacists, homophobes, transphobes, traditional Catholics, etcetera demanding that Rosary Club be treated with respect and that the students who have “discriminated” against Mendelson and Rosary Club face consequences.
Which leads us to CDO Martinez’s heinous email.
On Sunday, April 17th at almost 9pm, Martinez sent an email titled “Free Expression and Thoughtless Expression.” In it, she of course doesn’t name Rosary Club or Mendelson, nor does she mention The College Fix, or the varied hatred from Rosary Club. Instead, she conflates joke posters about sex and “satirical pieces in campus publications” with “disrespectful emails from other students.” I’m not even sure if by emails she’s referencing Rosary Club, and I could see her reference to “bigoted posts on Jodel” be about those against Rosary Club. That’s how incredibly vague it is. Which is fascinating, given it’s very obvious that her focus on “satirical pieces” and “crude posters” is obviously in direct reference to Mendelson’s piece in Enquiry.
In not outright and intentionally taking a stance against the anti-LGBTQ beliefs and other hateful statements of Rosary Club, CDO Martinez is basically letting them off the hook. How is it that “we are a community that aspires to be welcoming and inclusive of all its members,” when some of our “community” members are basically saying they hate LGBTQ+ people, and you, as Chief Diversity Officer, are doing absolutely nothing about it?
The extremely vague-yet-pointed, non-committal language that clearly demonstrates a refusal to protect marginalized students (and by extension demonstrates a commitment to protect those who are doing the marginalization) is to be expected of CDO Martinez and Hamilton.
Paquette, AHI, AHI Undergrads, and students who work with/for those three have regularly targeted and actually suppressed students and faculty who have attempted to bring awareness to white supremacy on and off campus, and sometimes people/organizations are targeted for just putting on certain events, like the DMC (Carnahan 2021). Every time, Hamilton has done nothing to protect those who are being targeted.
When myself and other members of Student Assembly were under threat of being sued for supposed “defamation” last September, not only did the College do absolutely nothing, but President Wippman told myself and Vice President Eric Santomauro-Stenzel on multiple occasions that the College would not and could not protect us in any way, primarily because if a suit were actually to be brought forth, our interests might “diverge” if the College is pressured to punish any students. When we brought up racist language in previous Enquiry pieces, President Wippman and CDO Martinez claimed to see no issue with it. I know multiple students this year who have been threatened by other students (all of them connected to AHI) to be sued for “defamation” or “libel,” and of students who have been threatened in the past.
And of course, when professors of color are actively targeted by AHI, Paquette, College Reform, and other white supremacists and white supremacist organizations, Hamilton does nothing to support those professors.
The irony in CDO Martinez’s email about “free expression” is that many students are increasingly scared to critique AHI or anyone related to it, on even the smallest of levels, because they literally keep getting threatened with lawsuits. Yet Hamilton does not care one single bit. What it cares about is protecting itself.
CDO Martinez’s email wasn’t sent out of some actual attempt to address hate speech on campus or encourage a “welcoming and inclusive” environment. She sent that email to cover Hamilton’s tracks, to better ensure that if this controversy gets any larger than it already has, that Hamilton could protect itself and argue that it never took part in any form of “suppression” or “discrimination.”
Ashley Carnahan. “Hamilton College Hosts Queer 'Black Sexual Logics' Performer.” The College Fix, March 3, 2021.
Jackson Walker. “Hamilton College Student Leaders Work to 'Defund the Police,' Claim 'White Supremacists' Are on Campus.” The College Fix, May 3, 2021.